Solar, Wind and Battery Projects Throng US Grid Connection Queue

The US power grid includes everything from 100-year-old hydro dams to brand-new batteries. It’s evolving as coal power diminishes, wind and solar rise and energy storage smooths out operations. But those changes are a shadow of what might come next.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a study on the project connection queue for the nation’s grids, showing just how much new power companies want to build, what type of power and where. In other words, it’s a glimpse at the future of US electricity.

Today, developers of more than 10,000 energy projects are asking grid operators for permission to connect to their networks. All told, the projects represent more than 2 terawatts of total power generation — about 50% more than current generation capacity. Almost all of this is wind, solar or battery energy storage.

Fifteen years ago, wind dominated requests, followed by natural gas. Since then, both have declined in absolute terms as many projects succeeded in hooking up to the grid — a process known as interconnection — while other developers withdrew their requests because their projects were not viable. But solar requests have increased steadily for a decade.

In the late 2010s, two new resources entered: battery energy storage and offshore wind. Last year, there were more than 300 gigawatts of standalone storage projects in the queue, and more than 400 gigawatts of combined solar and storage. And in three years, offshore wind interconnection requests went from zero to more than 100 gigawatts.