The United States installed more solar in the first quarter than in any previous first quarter ever, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Almost 2 GW of utility-scale solar, 1.96 GW in total, were installed in the first three months of 2020, up more than 65% from the total installed in the first quarter of last year.  The fun doesn’t stop with utility-scale solar, however.  According to SEIA, once residential installations are factored in, the total capacity installed in the first three months of the year jumps to 3.6 GW, which makes the start of 2020 the largest first quarter on record by more than 1 GW. 

Most of these installations came online in January, according to S&P. However, Florida installed more solar in the first quarter (596 MW) than California did (359 MW). The largest single project to go online came from Texas, with the Childress Solar Park, formerly known as the Misae Project, clocking in at 240 MW. This project is also one of shared ownership, with IKEA and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S holding 51% and 49% shares, respectively.

Looking forward

America as a whole now has a cumulative installed utility-scale solar capacity of 41 GW as of March 31, up 18.4% from 12 months prior. According to SEIA, an additional 10.8 GW are set to add to that figure by the end of the year, with the projection that 14.4 GW of solar will be going online across all sectors in 2020.

According to SEIA, the U.S. solar market will install 113 GW of solar from 2020-25.  A significant portion of the 113 GW expected to go online in the next five years is set to come from the Lone Star State. S&P shares that Texas is projected to install 26 GW by 2024, more than any other state in the country and also marking the first time that California has had significant competition, in terms of anticipated capacity.

The jewel of this frantic development in Texas will be the Greyhound Solar Project in Ector County. The 650 MW behemoth is still in early development, but is expected to reach commercial operation in June of 2021.