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Natural Gas to Trail Wind, Solar in New Electricity Generation This Year, EIA Says
The United States will add 42 GW of new electricity capacity to commercial operations this year, with 9.31 GW (22%) coming in the form of natural gas-burning facilities, but the largest additions will be wind and solar generation, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Wind is expected to account for 18.46 GW (44%), the largest share of the additions, followed by solar at 13.48 GW (32%) and natural gas, EIA said Tuesday. The remaining 2% is expected to come from hydroelectric generators and battery storage.
The planned gas capacity additions include 6.7 GW of combined-cycle plants and 2.3 GW of combustion-turbine plants. More than 70% of the gas additions would be in Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Louisiana, said EIA.
At the same time, EIA expects 3.7 GW of natural gas retirements in 2020, primarily older units that came online in the 1950s or 1960s, more than two-thirds of them steam turbine plants. Most of the retiring capacity, 2.2 GW, would come from the closings of California’s Alamitos, Huntington Beach and Redondo Beach plants. Also scheduled for retirement is the 10-year-old Inland Empire Energy Center, a natural gas-fired baseload generation plant in Southern California using turbine technology that has never taken hold commercially.
If operators were to achieve the 18.46 GW of wind capacity scheduled to come online this year it would easily surpass the record level of 13.2 GW set in 2012, EIA said.
“More than 60%, or 11.2 GW, of wind capacity is scheduled to come online at the end of the year, in November and December of 2020, which is typical for solar and wind applications,” the agency said. “Expiration of the U.S. production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2020 is driving the large wind capacity addition. The phase-out of the PTC extension is also reflected in the amount of wind capacity additions that came online in 2019, which EIA expects will total 11.8 GW. Texas accounts for 32% of the wind capacity additions expected in 2020, followed by Oklahoma at 6% and Wyoming, Colorado, and Missouri at 5% each.
EIA expects 13.5 GW of solar capacity to come online in 2020, surpassing the previous annual record addition of 8 GW in 2016. States expected to experience the largest utility-scale electric power sector solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity additions this year are Texas (22%), California (15%), Florida (11%), and South Carolina (10%). “The residential and commercial sectors will also experience record growth as a result of new distributed PV or rooftop systems,” EIA said.
Scheduled capacity retirements (11 GW) for 2020 will primarily be driven by coal (51%), followed by natural gas (33%) and nuclear (14%). Both Indian Point Unit 2 in New York and the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa, totaling 1.6 GW, are scheduled to retire in 2020.
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