Gas, News, Renewables, Wind

EIA: Wind, gas and solar add combined 22.7 GW of new capacity in 2019

Onshore wind projects led all new electric power capacity added in the U.S. last year, according to a new report by the federal Energy Information Administration.

According to statistics complied in the EIA’s latest Monthly Electric Generator Inventory Report, the nation’s electric power sector installed nearly 23,000 MW of new generating capacity  in 2019. Onshore wind was tops in new additions with 9,100 MW.

Natural gas-fired projects, benefiting from close to historic low prices and production levels in U.S. drilling, was second with 8,300 MW of newly installed capacity. Solar photovoltaic was third at 5,300 MW in 2019 installations.

The southern region of the U.S., which led in population growth last year as reported by Census Bureau updates, also account for nearly half of the capacity additions in 2019, according to the EIA.

Abundant gas supplies via the Marcellus and Utica shale plays pushed up gas-fired power plant capacity in the northeast region. High quality wind resources in the Midwest elevated capacity in that region, including major projects such as Lincoln Clean Energy’s Lockett wind farm in Texas.

Utility-scale wind also is benefiting from historically low prices. An August 2019 story in Renewable Energy World by Clarion Energy Content Director Elizabeth Ingram reported that the national average price of wind power purchase agreements fell below 2 cents per kWh in the previous year, citing U.S. Department of Energy statistics.

AEP, Avista, Algonquin Power & Utilities, Mid-American Energy and a wing of Southern Co. are among those utilities involved in utility-scale wind project ownership and/or development. Others such as DTE Energy are investing in wind through power purchase agreements.

Coal, meanwhile, still accounts for about 25 percent of the U.S. generation mix, but low costs in gas and renewable development are exerting downward pressure on the once dominant resource. Nearly 14,000 MW of coal-fired capacity was retired last year-the third biggest drop in EIA’s reports.

The Midwest is the only U.S. region in which coal was the most used electricity resource in 2019, according to the EIA.

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