U.S. power sector to add nearly 24 gigawatts of capacity

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 48 views 

The U.S. electric power sector is expected to add 23.7 gigawatts and retire 8.3 gigawatts of generating capacity in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This data, from EIA’s most recent inventory of electric generators, shows 46% of the capacity additions will consist of wind generation; 34%, natural gas; and 18%, solar. The remaining 2% will be other renewables and battery storage capacity.

Wind will account for 10.9 gigawatts of the added capacity, most of which won’t start operating until the end of the year. More than half of the new capacity will be installed in Texas, Iowa and Illinois.

The natural gas capacity will include 6.1 gigawatts of combined-cycle plants and 1.4 gigawatts of combustion-turbine plants. The majority of the capacity is expected to be operating by June, and 60% of the capacity will be installed in Pennsylvania, Florida and Louisiana.

Nearly half of the 4.3 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity will be installed in Texas, California and North Carolina. An additional 3.9 gigawatts of small-scale solar capacity will be operating by the end of 2019.

The capacity retirements consist of coal (53%), natural gas (27%) and nuclear (18%). The remaining 2% includes a hydroelectric plant in Washington and smaller renewable and petroleum capacity.

Most of the 4.5 gigawatts of coal capacity retirements are expected to happen at the end of 2019, and half of the planned retirement capacity is the Navajo plant in Arizona, which started operating in the 1970s. The capacity to retire in 2019 is small compared to the 13.7 gigawatts retired in 2018, the second-highest amount of coal capacity to retire in a year, according to the EIA. Nearly all of the 2.2 gigawatts of natural gas capacity that will be retired consist of steam turbine plants that were built in the 1950s or 1960s. The majority of the remaining steam turbine plants are in California. Two nuclear plants, located in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, are set to retire in 2019, totaling 1.5 gigawatts of capacity.