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Solar news: December 31st, 2021

In this week’s news roundup, the Biden Administration approves solar expansion on U.S. land, just as the industry surpasses another milestone.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management approves two new solar projects in California

Last week, officials at the Bureau of Land Management approved the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in Riverside County, CA. These developments together will generate 465 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power roughly 132,000 homes. Officials also said they expect to approve a third large-scale project–Oberon–in the coming days, which will add another 500 MW of solar capacity to the tally.

With this authorization, the land agency also announced their intention to nominate public land in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada for additional solar development. Dubbed “solar energy zones,” these areas combined encompass roughly 140 square miles of sunny space. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, while commenting on this decision, stated that the administration was making up lost ground for the lack of action on renewable energy development over the last few years: “We fully intend to meet our clean energy goals.”

Residential solar installations exceeded 1 gigawatt (GW) in Q3 2021

For the first time ever, the U.S. saw more than 1 GW of new residential solar capacity in a single quarter, topping 130,000 individual installations. This record quarter for solar surpassed Q3 2020 by 39%, and the previous quarter–Q2 2021–by 8%. Data from Wood Mackenzie’s U.S. Solar Market Insight Report suggests 1 out of every 600 homes is now going solar.

The industry has recently struggled through supply chain constraints and trade policy uncertainty but forecasts indicate that, with a successful enactment of the Build Back Better Act, our country has the potential to triple solar capacity over the next five years. “We must pass the Build Back Better Act to create quality American jobs, drive transformative solar and storage growth, and overcome supply chain bottlenecks,” stated Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper.


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