Queue for electric generation and storage projects is growing across the U.S.

Queue for electric generation and storage projects is growing across the U.S.

Energize Weekly, June 2, 2021

The queue of electricity generation and storage projects is growing year-on-year, reaching a total of 950 gigawatts (GW) of capacity by the end of 2020, according to a survey by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

There are 750 GW of generating capacity projects pending, with solar accounting for 62 percent of the total and wind for another 28 percent. Natural gas-fired generation accounts for about 10 percent. There are also 200 GW of energy storage projects.

The lab compiled data from all seven integrated grids in the U.S. (independent system operators and regional transmission organizations) and 35 utilities not on integrated grids. This accounts for about 85 percent of the nation’s electric load.

The survey covered 5,639 active projects, 1,706 completed projects and 6,896 withdrawn projects. 

“Growth in proposed solar and storage capacity is consistent across regions,” according to the survey. “Proposed wind has contracted in some regions, but continues to grow in those with proposed offshore development. Gas is declining in all regions except for non-ISO Southeast.”

The largest number of withdrawn projects 2,984 was in the PJM Interconnection, which serves mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states; 1,591 on the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) grid; and 1,381 from California’s CAISO.

As those numbers tend to indicate, among those active projects, much of the proposed capacity will likely not be built, the survey said. 

Between 2000 and 2015, only 24 percent of projects in a sample were built, and the completion rate for renewable generation was even lower – 16 percent for solar and 19 percent for wind.

There are 680 GW of zero-carbon capacity – renewables and storage – seeking transmission access and hybrids, twinning storage and renewable generation, are a growing share of projects, particularly in CAISO and the non-ISO West.

This includes 159 GW of solar hybrids and 13 GW of wind hybrids among the active projects in the queue seeking grid interconnections. About 89 percent of the solar projects in CAISO are hybrid.

Wind capacity projects are highest in Southwest Power Pool, New York ISO and the non-ISO West, with an increasing share of offshore projects. Proposed natural gas projects are primarily in the Southeast and PJM. Storage is mainly in CAISO and the West.

Only 117 GW of the capacity in the pipeline, a little less than 13 percent, have executed interconnection agreements, although as much as 70 percent of the capacity in the queue could be on-line by the end of 2023, the lab survey concluded.

The median wait time for projects with executed interconnection agreements in the queue was 1,387 days. The time was the longest in CAISO at a median of 2,072 days, followed by the Southwest Power Pool at 1,645 days.

Wait times appear to be on the rise. In the four ISOs, the time between a connection request and commercial operation has increased to about 3.5 years from 1.9 years for projects between 2000 and 2009.

“There are growing calls for queue reform to reduce cost, lead times, and speculation,” the survey said.

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