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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester 184498
Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

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  • Jan 10, 2019

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-01 - Predictions & Trends, click here for more

According to EIA’s latest inventory of electric generators, 23.7 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity additions and 8.3 GW of capacity retirements are expected for the U.S. electric power sector in 2019. The utility-scale capacity additions consist primarily of wind (46%), natural gas (34%), and solar photovoltaics (18%), with the remaining 2% consisting primarily of other renewables and battery storage capacity.

  • Wind. A total of 10.9 GW of wind capacity is currently scheduled to come online in 2019. Most of the capacity will not come online until the end of the year, which is typical for renewable capacity. Three states—Texas, Iowa, and Illinois—will be home to more than half of the 2019 planned wind capacity additions.
  • Natural gas. Planned natural gas capacity additions are primarily in the form of combined-cycle plants (6.1 GW) and combustion-turbine plants (1.4 GW). Most of the natural gas capacity is scheduled to be online by June 2019 in preparation for high summer demand. Of the planned natural gas capacity additions, 60% will occur in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana.
  • Solar photovoltaics. Nearly half of the 4.3 GW of utility-scale electric power sector solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity additions are located in three states: Texas, California, and North Carolina. In addition to the electric power sector, other sectors, such as the residential and commercial sectors, also install solar PV, e.g., distributed PV or rooftop systems. In addition to utility-scale capacity, EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlookexpects an additional 3.9 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2019.
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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 10, 2019

Matt, in another thread on EnergyCentral I emphasized the importance of distinguishing the concepts of energy and power. You present another example here of how critically important it will be for making decisions going forward.

A source of confusion is conflicting definitions for the term "capacity" -  one exploited by renewables advocates to boost the value of their chosen technology. Whoever did it first should face a firing squad, but what's done is done (a satisfactory substitute might be exiling him/her to a remote island without internet access).

Here, capacity is deceptively used to represent how much power a source can possibly produce, vs. how much average power it will produce over a given interval of time. The statement:

"A total of 10.9 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2019."

is more accurately stated:

"Wind facilities which can output a maximum of 10.9 GW of power are scheduled to come online in 2019."

Obviously, it's deceptive to compare maximum power with average power. Comparing average power, gas is 100% more useful than wind for delivering energy - the stuff that makes our lives better (nuclear is 200% more useful, solar is 33% less useful).

A more accurate metric would apply each source's capacity factor before comparing additions together. In that case, 2019 additions will be:

Wind: 3.3 GW
Gas: 4.9 GW
Solar: .9 GW

Pointing out new gas will be providing 14% more average power than new wind and solar drives renewables advocates nuts, but they were pretty nuts to begin with.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 10, 2019

Yes, I'm definitely with you that capacity factor is important and should be included in any/all discussions so they better reflect expected generation. My take is that the audience of people reading EIA articles like this one have an inherent understanding of that, but you're right that it can misstate the true narrative when looked at with a quick glance or cross-referenced to an audience who wouldn't understand that nuance. 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jan 12, 2019

Of the planned natural gas capacity additions, 60% will occur in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana.

In all three states coal is on its last legs. NGCC plants are replacing this coal.  In PA coal generation has dropped 43TWh in the last 5 years and coal in FL is down 22TWh in last 4 years.  CO2 declines.

Although FL should be commended for replacing coal, it has been way too slow in moving to solar. That is starting to change.  Solar is starting to help NG in replacing the coal in FL and therefore coal decline will accelerate. Coal in FL should be gone by the mid 20s. 

Once the coal is gone, Solar in FL will eat into NG share.  CO2 declines.


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