Gas Turbines on the Rise, According to EVA
Developers in 2000 set an all-time record in the United States
for production of megawatt capacity from natural gas-fired
turbines. The interesting part about the new record is that it is
expected to be more than doubled in 2001, according to a new study
conducted by A. Michael Schaal of Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc.
The study shows that 23,830 MW of new gas turbine-based capacity
was built during 2000, up from 6,400 MW which was constructed in
1999, and 1,200 MW put in place in 1998. Added turbine-based
capacity is forecast to increase by 53,800 MW during 2001, and by
up to 82,800 MW in 2002. Expanding on the record set for 2000, EVA
estimates it represents a $10 billion investment that will power
over 22 million homes, approximately 8% of all U.S. homes. Schaal
added that five to six projects became operational during each
month of 2000.
And the growth is expected to continue at break-neck pace.
Schaal said that in the last quarter alone there has been a 14%
increase in projects to be built between 2000 and 2005. Currently,
262,842 MW are scheduled for construction over the next five years.
For the five-year period, Kentucky and South Carolina enjoyed the
sharpest increase in planned generation over last quarter's study.
Kentucky's additions rose from 1,676 MW to 3,766 MW, while South
Carolina went from 1,850 MW to 3,257 MW. Even with all of the
positive statistics, the consultant warns there are hurdles down
"Higher fuel prices are but one risk that developers face," said
Schaal. "We will continue to monitor the progress of those projects
under development." The EVA said that scenarios including market
re-regulation and over-shooting demand could also turn financing
sour for project developers, killing the growth momentum in the
Of the planned generation sites for the recent surge of
turbines, EVA singled out California as "missing in action." Schaal
found that planned electric generation in California is lagging far
behind current and future needs.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) anticipated
that to get around the supply issues experienced during the summer
of 2000, and to be ready for the growth in demand during the summer
of 2001, the system needs an additional 1,800 MW. The ISO, in an
effort to get plants built quickly, labeled the facilities needed
as "temporary" to get around the lengthy permit process. Schaal
said that of the nine projects proposed initially to help meet the
goal, six have been withdrawn, leaving California only an
additional 371 MW of new capacity. The consultant listed numerous
roadblocks to the new generation, such as revenue caps for plant
owners and environmental complaints on siting.
Elsewhere around the nation, the EVA cites better technology and
deregulation as major reasons for the sharp increase in gas turbine
For more information on the most recent study, "Tracking the
Building Boom of New Power Plants in the U.S.," contact Schaal at