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Even an epidemic cannot stop the development of solar energy.

Workers building a 200-megawatt Rambler solar project in Tom Green County, Texas, took the lead after an outbreak of an epidemic. The pile of drivers easily pushed the I-beams into the ground. A team assembled a revolving rack that traverses the path of the sun across the sky. Then, a crew locked in the solar panels, followed by a group of electricians who put everything together. That all came to a halt when some of the project’s 300 workers tested positive for COVID-19 in the spring of 2020.

But just a week later, the workers returned, and by August 2020. That plan It was generating enough electricity. Electricity in more than 32,000 homes.. “There were a few more obstacles and things to overcome, but the team did a great job,” said Matt Johnson, general manager of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions Engineering.

Despite epidemics, the United States built more utility-scale solar power plants in 2020 than any other year, with Texas leading the way. All of these new solar plants add 9.6 gigawatts of renewable energy to the US power grid, bringing the country’s total solar capacity. 48 gigawatts. This is enough to allow further retirement in the country’s coal fleet. Capacity of 223 GW in 2020.

Of The solar industry released its numbers. Announcing the banner in March, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now confirmed the record and reduced the details to zero. In a new report. Had it not been for the global epidemic, the numbers would have been even higher, said Mark Bollinger, a research scientist at the Berkeley Lab and one of the authors of the report. But the numbers are still impressive.

“It’s hard to know the exact answer, maybe it would have been much more unusual without the epidemic,” Bollinger said. “Some of these projects collided in 2021 or 2022. But it was still a record year.”

In the thick of the epidemic, solar construction suffered a setback. “Quarantine orders at the state level have severely damaged sales, permits, and construction of projects.” Wood Mackenzie analyst Austin Pierre.Returned in June 2020.

The developers had already prepared a slate of installations for 2020 to take advantage of the federal tax credit for solar energy, which was to take place at the end of December. Bollinger said Congress decided to increase credit at a lower rate, by 2024, but everyone already had a 2020 target date.

Prior to 2017, California was playing the lion’s share in solar projects. But in recent years, Texas has become a leader. In 2020, the state installed enough solar panels to generate 2.5 gigawatts of electricity under the full sun, while Florida and California each built 1.6 gigawatt utility scale solar. Fewer projects are underway in California as panels fill the grid with electricity as the sun rises. “So much solar energy is generated during the day that it is pushing down prices,” Bollinger said. This means that it is difficult for every new solar plant in California to make a profit. Now is the time for people to make batteries from solar plants, and conserve energy until the sun goes down and prices go up. And in almost every other part of the country, solar is still “very valuable,” Bollinger said.

The new Berkeley Lab report focuses on projects larger than just 5 MW. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that other solar panels are sufficient to produce. 5.1 gigawatts Electricity increased in 2020 on homes, businesses and small projects.

The sun still does justice. 2.3% electricity in the United States., But that number is growing every month. If the rate of solar growth continues, almost every year from here could be a record year.

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