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Screenshot of data via Wood Mackenzie's U.S. Solar Market Insight report

New data released this morning shows that total U.S. solar installations will reach a new record this year.

Why it matters: It's one of several recent signs that the trajectory of the renewables sector has been less hampered by COVID-19 than initially feared.

Driving the news: The U.S. saw 3.8 gigawatts of new installed capacity in the third quarter, mostly coming from utility-scale projects.

  • Full-year additions are expected to exceed 19 GW, per the consultancy Wood Mackenzie (see the chart above).

What they're saying: "As quarterly volumes demonstrate more resilience to pandemic impacts than originally anticipated — with a faster-than-expected recovery for distributed solar — our outlook for the year has increased since last quarter," notes the analysis released with the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Where it stands: The report notes that utility-scale projects were only "minimally" affected by pandemic-related construction delays.

But the residential market has been on a roller coaster as lockdowns and other forces caused installations to crater earlier in the year.

  • In California, the biggest market, installations fell 23% in the second quarter but rose 15% in Q3.
  • New York was even more dramatic, falling 73% from Q1 to Q2 and then rebounding by 156% in Q3, the report notes.
  • Greentech Media (which Wood Mackenzie owns) has more.

The big picture: Separately, a new International Energy Agency analysis of global electricity markets finds that while global electricity demand is falling 2% this year due to the pandemic, renewable power generation rose around 7%.

  • "Long-term contracts, priority access to the grid and sustained installation of new plants are all underpinning strong growth in renewable electricity production," the report released yesterday finds.
  • IEA also said that installations of new global renewable generating capacity will reach a new record this year.

Yes, but: The global energy mix — in both electricity and elsewhere — is not changing quickly enough to put the world on a path toward sustained emissions cuts consistent with Paris Agreement goals.

  • Last week the research firm BloombergNEF released its big annual Climatescope analysis of global clean energy investment trends in emerging markets.
  • One finding of note: "Pandemic-related disruptions now appear to be giving investors pause and slowing emerging markets clean energy investment flows."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

New report pushes UN to rethink electricity goals in developing nations

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's time for the world's biggest multilateral development agencies to radically reframe their goals around expanding electricity access, a new proposal argues.

Why it matters: The nonprofit Energy for Growth Hub says the UN's current sustainable development goals (SDGs) around power access are too modest and focus too narrowly on residential use.

Bankruptcy filings hit decade-high last year

Data: S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Bankruptcy filings hit a decade-high last year — though, by one measure, they eclipsed the financial crisis high.

The big picture: 7% of companies that filed for bankruptcy had over $1 billion in liabilities, the highest share in at least 10 years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Investment in the space industry overcame the pandemic's headwinds in 2020

A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

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