Who are the biggest solar players in the US?
The US solar market is growing, but which developers, investors and funds are driving the boom?
20 Jul, 22
The US solar market is in the midst of a rapid period of growth. It installed a record 23.6GW of new generation capacity in 2021, despite the challenges brought by supply chain disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Solar was the fastest-growing energy source in the country for the third straight year, increasing by 25.23% over 2020 to more than 121GW and ranking it the world’s third largest solar market after China and the European Union. Another 21.8GW of utility-scale capacity is expected to come online in the US this year, helping renewables to overtake coal-fired generation.
US solar has grown by an average of 33% annually over the past decade, driven by declining costs for residential and utility-scale systems, rising demand from the public and private sectors for clean energy, and supportive policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The industry generated more than $33 billion of private investment in 2021 alone.
The Biden Administration has set out ambitious plans to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035. That would require more than 130GW of solar to be deployed annually, a fivefold increase from the 24GW added last year.
Who are the major players in the US solar market leading this growth?
Top US solar developers
Let’s look at the top five solar developers in the US by capacity.
Based in Florida, NextEra Energy Resources operates the world's largest renewable energy portfolio, with 24GW of capacity — of which 4GW comes from solar. The company expects to reach 7-8GW of solar capacity in 2023-2024. NextEra is also pursuing green hydrogen pilot projects powered by solar resources.
The Chicago-based company has more than 50 solar projects in development with a combined capacity of 6GW. At 1.3GW, the Samson Solar Energy Center currently under construction in Texas will become the largest solar power generation facility in the US when it starts operation in 2023.
EDF Renewables North America
The North American subsidiary of France’s EDF Renewables, the company had 2.6GW of solar capacity installed as of the end of 2021 and 6.7GW in development to 2026 — of which just under 1GW was scheduled to come online in 2022.
EDF Renewables also provides battery storage for both distributed and utility-scale systems. Its EDF Store & Forecast subsidiary was set up in 2014 to develop a smart software solution that uses forecasting and energy storage to coordinate renewable generation.
Cypress Creek Renewables
California-based Cypress Creek is an integrated solar and storage company that owns 2GW of solar capacity across 14 states. In June, the company formed the US Solar Buyer Consortium with AES, Clearway Energy Group and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments to purchase 6-7 GW of silicon solar modules annually to support the rapid expansion of US domestic solar manufacturing.
8minute has one of the largest solar project pipelines in the US, with over 18GW of capacity as well as 24GWh of storage under development, including more than 50 utility-scale projects. The California-headquartered company has put 2GW of solar projects into operation since it launched in 2009.
8minute claims a number of industry records:
- Developing the largest solar power plant in the US in 2011
- Delivering the first operational US solar plant to beat fossil fuel prices in 2016
- … and delivering a solar storage system at record low prices in 2019.
Companies like Dominion Energy, Shell and BP are also all betting big on the US solar market, acquiring developers with large project pipelines to accelerate their transition away from fossil fuels to renewables.
US solar investors and funds
As private investment in the US solar industry soars, who are some of the biggest investors?
Swedish investment firm EQT Infrastructure acquired Cypress Creek Renewables last year in a deal valued at more than $2 billion, its first foray into the US renewable sector. EQT said it chose Cypress as it is well-positioned to capitalize on the growth of renewable energy investment in the US, supported by state and federal government policies, favorable technology costs and corporate sustainability goals.
Other major private equity firms have also been expanding their investments in US infrastructure, with a focus on clean energy. In July 2021, Carlyle Group launched a new portfolio company, Copia Power, to develop utility-scale sustainable infrastructure with $700 million in capital and over $6 billion in corporate finance. Copia will develop 7GW of renewable energy assets with more than 3GWh of battery storage capacity.
Antin Infrastructure Partners, which is based in Paris, London and New York, last year acquired Origis Energy, which operates 2GW of solar and storage capacity and has 20GW project pipeline.
Even Australia’s Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) has its eye on the US market, making its first investment through its newly formed infrastructure debt platform in Cypress Creek in April with a $450 million deal. QIC has invested more than $2 billion in North American infrastructure since 2020, including participating in a $2 billion investment round for Generate Capital, a California-based investment firm focused on sustainable infrastructure including distributed small solar installations.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) has made a number of large investments in renewable projects. That includes a deal in May to sell half of its stake in Clearway Energy to TotalEnergies in a $1.6 billion deal that gave it an indirect stake in SunPower, the second-largest residential solar provider in the US. This year GIP has also invested $500 million in US renewable power producer BrightNight.
Work with RatedPower on utility-scale solar
The US is one of several fast-growing solar markets around the world with big potential for a positive return on investment. RatedPower can help you to optimize your utility-scale solar project based on its location and other characteristics to generate energy at the highest efficiency. Contact us today to find out how.
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