Thanks to the completion of several mega-projects in 2013, the U.S. has now surpassed China to become the worldwide leader in installed utility-scale solar power production. Coupled with substantial new construction of mid-size projects around the country, total US capacity now surpasses 5 GW — more than double the 2.2 GW existing at the start of 2013.
“Utility-scale” is the power industry’s shorthand for large solar projects that handle many more megawatts than community-focused and locallly-driven installations. California leads the nation in construction of new projects and the state’s transmission grid operator reported major new capacity coming online the last quarter of last year from several of the world’s largest solar power stations, including three partly-complete First Solar projects: Desert Sunlight being built for GE and others, Topaz Solar Farm for MidAmerican and Exelon’s Antelope Valley. Nationwide, the U.S. now has a total of 263 utility-scale plants generating electric power from the sun.