Don’t write Big Solar off yet. With the plunge in photovoltaic panel prices, US utilities that once enthusiastically signed deals for massive solar power plants to be built in the desert began to favor small installations deployed near cities that don’t require the construction of multi-billion-dollar new transmission lines. But a new report shows that so-called utility-scale solar—which supplies more than 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity from a central power plant—hit a new record in the third quarter of 2013.+
So far this year, 1,081 MW of utility-scale solar has come online, with the flip switched on 282 MW in the third quarter, according to market research firm SNL. That’s a 15% spike over the third quarter of 2012.
The number to watch, however, is how many megawatts are in the pipeline to be built in the coming years. There are currently 36,794 MW worth of projects under development in the US. SNL expects a building boom over the next two years with than half of that solar coming online to qualify for a 30% federal tax credit that is set to fall to 10% by the end of 2016. . . .