Renewables, Natural Gas To Lead New U.S. Electric Capacity

  • Jan 11, 2019
  • Oil Price

Wind, natural gas, and solar capacity will lead the new electricity capacity in the United States this year, while coal-fired generation will account for more than half of scheduled capacity retirements, the EIA said in its latest inventory of electric generators.

In 2019, the U.S. electric power sector is expected to add 23.7 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity, while 8.3 GW capacity is planned to be retired. 

New utility-scale capacity will be led by wind power, which will account for 46 percent of the additions, followed by natural gas with a 34-percent share of new capacity, and solar photovoltaics, which will make up 18 percent of new electric capacity, the EIA said. The remaining 2 percent of new additions will consist mainly of other renewables and battery storage capacity.

In wind power, a total of 10.9 GW of capacity is currently planned to start up this year, with Texas, Iowa, and Illinois accounting for more than half of the 2019 planned wind capacity additions.

New natural gas capacity will be mostly combined-cycle plants, which are planned to add 6.1 GW of electric capacity, while combustion-turbine plants are scheduled for 1.4 GW new capacity. Most of the natural gas-powered electric capacity is planned to become operational by the middle of the year in order to be able to meet high summer demand, the EIA said. Sixty percent of all new natural gas-fired capacity will take place in three states—Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana.

Related: Oil Enters Bull Market As Shorts Are Wiped Out

Solar photovoltaics will add 4.3 GW this year, and nearly half of those capacity additions will be in Texas, California, and North Carolina.

Among the capacity scheduled for retirement, coal will lead with 53 percent of all planned retirements, followed by natural gas with 27 percent, and nuclear with 18 percent. One hydroelectric plant in Washington State and other smaller renewable and petroleum capacity retirements will account for the remaining 2 percent.

The 4.5 GW of coal-fired electric capacity that is planned for retirement this year is relatively small compared with the estimated 13.7 GW of coal generation capacity that retired in 2018. Last year saw the second-highest amount of coal capacity retired in a year in the United States, according to the EIA.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Register for access to the Energy news and press releases