Queued Up: Characteristics of Power Plants Seeking Transmission Interconnection As of the End of 2021
Proposed large-scale electric generation and storage projects must apply for interconnection to the bulk power system via interconnection queues. While most 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projects in these generation interconnection queues through the end of 2021, as well as data on "operational" and "withdrawn" projects where those data are available.
We find that the amount of new electric capacity in these queues is growing dramatically, with over 1,400 gigawatts (GW) of total generation and storage capacity now seeking connection to the grid (over 90% of which is for zero-carbon resources like solar, wind, and battery storage). Solar (676 GW) and battery storage (~420 GW) are – by far – the fastest growing resources in the queues; combined they accounted for nearly 85% of new capacity entering the queues in 2021. Substantial wind (247 GW) capacity is also seeking interconnection, 31% of which is for offshore projects (77 GW). In total, about 930 GW of zero-carbon generating 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. 286 GW of solar hybrids (primarily solar+battery) and 19 GW of wind hybrids are currently active in the queues; nearly half of battery storage in the queues is paired with generation.
However, much of this proposed capacity will be withdrawn from the queues and not built. Among a subset of queues for which data are available, only 23% of the projects seeking connection from 2000 to 2016 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: for the regions with available data, the typical duration from connection request to commercial operation increased from ~2.1 years for projects built in 2000-2010 to ~3.7 years for those built in 2011-2021.