Report: 2014 was the best year for utility-scale solar power

 Report: 2014 was the best year for utility-scale solar power

Caption: The 280-MW Abengoa Mojave Solar site was the largest utility-scale solar project to come online in the 4Q of 2014.

With more than 3.7 GW installed, 2014 was the best year yet for utility-scale solar power installations, beating the nearly 3.4 GW installed in 2013 by 10 percent and bringing the U.S. to a total of 10.6 GW of operating utility-scale solar energy capacity, according to a new report conducted by SNL Energy.

The 280-MW Abengoa Mojave Solar, located in San Bernardino County, Calif., was the largest of the 109 utility-scale solar power project phases completed in the fourth quarter of 2014. Power produced at the Abengoa-owned site is being sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E, NYSE: PCG). The project received a $1.2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in September 2011.

The second-largest utility-scale solar project phase that came online in the fourth quarter of 2014 was the 255-MW phase four of the Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. With the completion of the fourth phase, the 567 MW solar photovoltaic facility, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit MidAmerican Solar LLC, is now complete and claims the status of the largest operating solar farm in the world. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. also has a 25-year PPA with the facility, for 550-MW.

A total of 490 MW of utility-scale solar capacity was announced in the fourth quarter of 2014, and the largest of those projects was the 120-MW Southern Plains Solar Project in Monroe County, Miss. TradeWind Energy Inc., Enel SpA and Enel Green Power own the project, which will be on a 1,400-acre site northwest of Aberdeen, Miss. The three companies also own the second-largest project announced in the fourth quarter, the 100-MW Front Range-Midway Solar Project in El Paso County, Colo.

More than 19.1 GW, or 84 percent, of utility-scale solar capacity in active development with an estimated in-service year is slated to come online before the ITC declines, and about 5.6 GW of that capacity is in advanced development, with an additional 2.1 GW of capacity currently under construction.

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