By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired set to dominate 2018 electricity generation additions, EIA says

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018

Almost 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric-generating capacity is set to come online in 2018—the most in a decade, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Natural gas-fired generation will account for two-thirds of the new capacity, a sharp difference from 2017 when renewable energy generation was 55 percent of that year’s 21 GW of new capacity.

Since 2013, renewables have made up the majority of new generation. In February, they accounted for 22 percent of all generating capacity in the U.S., according to the EIA.

Renewable generation sources made up 98 percent of the new generation coming online in the first two months of 2018, with all the February new capacity coming from wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

The bulk of the 1.2 GW of new wind capacity was added in states that already have significant levels of wind generation—Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa. In Texas, two utility-scale batteries totaling 20 MW were located adjacent to wind farms. EIA forecasts a total of 5 GW of new wind generation for the year.

As for solar, about 4 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) are forecast to go into service in 2018 with more than half the installations added in California, North Carolina and Texas.

Electricity from solar reached 77 million megawatt-hours in 2017, moving into third place among renewable generating sources. Solar surpassed biomass as a generating source for the first time.

For the rest of the year, however, EIA projects a big influx of natural gas-fired generation. About half the 21 GW of combined-cycle units that will be added this year will be in the territory of PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization serving parts of the mid-Atlantic region and Midwest.

The PJM is facing the prospect of the closure of 1.3 GW of coal-fired plant and 3.6 GW of nuclear generation in 2018.

There are plans to add 5.2 GW of natural-gas plants in Pennsylvania, 1.9 GW in Maryland and 1.9 GW in Virginia. Most of the new capacity is being added on the eastern side of the PJM region along the Transcontinental, Dominion Transmission and the Texas Eastern Transmission pipelines.

By the end of 2018, 4 GW of solar PV are expected to come online in the United States. More than half of the 2018 solar PV additions will be added in California, North Carolina and Texas.

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