The majority of new electric generation capacity being brought online this year will come from solar and wind projects, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest inventory of power generators.
Of the 42 GW in new capacity additions expected in 2020, solar and wind should provide three-fourths of that mix, according to the EIA. Operators expect to bring 18.5 GW of utility-scale wind online this year, surpassing the record of 13.2 GW commissioned eight years ago.
The new wind power accounts for 44 percent of added capacity, while solar energy projects will provide 13.5 GW, itself 60 percent above the previous record set in 2016.
Texas will account for 32 percent of the newest wind capacity, with Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Missouri playing host to a combined 23 percent. More than half of the utility-scale solar photovoltaic additions will be centered in Texas, California, Florida and South Carolina.
This is not to say that natural gas-fired generation will lose much of its market share. The EIA also reported that the average price of natural gas will fall 9 percent below 2019 levels, to less than $2.50 per million British thermal units at the benchmark Henry Hub price.
Average daily U.S. dry gas production will top 94 billion cubic feet per day this year, according to the EIA. Planned natural gas-fired generation capacity additions total 9.3 GW for 2020, with combined-cycle plants accounting for two-thirds of new gas-fired power online.
Hydroelectric and energy storage will provide two percent of new capacity.
More than six GW of coal-fired capacity was reportedly retired in 2019 with another 2.5 GW scheduled to close this year. Tri-State and Southwestern Electric Power Co. are among those utilities recently making announcements to retire coal-fired plants in this decade.
Natural gas fuels about 36 percent of current U.S. electricity generation, while coal still delivers 27 percent of power. Nuclear contributes 19 percent of the generation mix, followed by renewables hydro, wind and solar at a combined 18 percent.
Wind alone accounts for about 8 percent of U.S. generating mix, while solar is almost two percent.
(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He joined Clarion (previously Pennwell) in 2015 after a 30-year career in newspaper journalism, including nearly a decade covering the energy industry. Walton can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).