Queued Up: Characteristics of Power Plants Seeking Transmission Interconnection As of the End of 2020
Proposed large-scale electric generation and storage projects must apply for interconnection to the bulk power system via interconnection queues. While many projects that apply for interconnection are not subsequently built, data from these queues nonetheless provide a general indicator for mid-term trends in developer interest. Berkeley Lab compiled and analyzed data from all seven ISOs/RTOs in concert with 35 non-ISO utilities, representing an estimated 85% of all U.S. electricity load. We include all "active" projects in these generation interconnection queues through the end of 2020, as well as data on "completed" and "withdrawn" projects for five of the ISOs (CAISO, ISO-NE, MISO, NYISO, PJM).
We find that the total capacity active in the queues is growing year-over-year, with over 750 GW of generation and an estimated 200 GW of storage capacity as of the end of 2020. Solar (462 GW) accounts for a large – and growing – share of generator capacity in the queues. Substantial wind (209 GW) capacity is also in development, 29% of which is for offshore projects (61 GW). In total, about 680 GW of zero-carbon capacity is currently seeking transmission access, as is 74 GW of natural gas capacity. Hybrids now comprise a large – and increasing – share of proposed projects, particularly in CAISO and the non-ISO West. 159 GW of solar hybrids (primarily solar+battery) and 13 GW of wind hybrids are currently active in the queues.
However, much of this proposed capacity will not ultimately be built. Among a subset of queues for which data are available, only 24% of the projects seeking connection from 2000 to 2015 have subsequently been built. Completion percentages appear to be declining, and are even lower for wind and solar than other resources. Additionally, wait times are on the rise: in four ISOs, the typical duration from connection request to commercial operation increased from ~1.9 years for projects built in 2000-2009 to ~3.5 years for those built in 2010-2020. There are growing calls for queue reform to reduce cost, lead times, and speculation.