Unprecedented Amounts of Clean Energy Coming Online

Energy grid.
Published On
Apr 22, 2022

There are many ways to gauge the growth of clean power in the United States. One measure is the volume of new generating capacity awaiting access to the grid.

A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) quantifies so-called “interconnection queues” seeking to connect to the grid. The study, “Queued Up: Characteristics of Power Plants Seeking Transmission Interconnection As of the End of 2021,” was published in April 2022. It compiled and analyzed data from the seven organized electricity markets in the nation and 35 additional utilities outside of those regions, which collectively represent over 85% of all U.S. electricity load.

The study finds that interconnection queues seeking to connect to the grid across the United States is growing year-over-year, with over 1,400 gigawatts (GW) of total generation and storage capacity now seeking connection. Joseph Rand, a senior scientific engineering associate at Berkeley Lab, describes the total volume of clean energy capacity in the queues as “remarkable,” adding that it suggests “a huge transition” is underway.

Renewable energy and storage are expected to lead that transition. According to the study, solar, battery storage and wind energy account for 93% of all proposed capacity. Of note, that is about the same amount needed to get to 80% of U.S. electricity from zero-carbon resources by 2030, which would put the nation on track to meet the ambitious goals set by the Biden Administration.

The data can be broken down in several ways. For example, of the total capacity in the queue, over 1,000 GW represents generation capacity and a little over 400 GW is for storage. Of the generating capacity, 930 GW will be from zero-carbon sources. Solar accounts for the largest share at 676 GW, followed by wind at 247 GW. About one-third, (31%) of the wind generating capacity will come from offshore projects.

The study also points out that much of the proposed capacity will not ultimately be built, noting that only 23% of the projects seeking connection from 2000 to 2016 have subsequently been constructed.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

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