Over the Next 3 Years, FERC Foresees 67.1-GW of New Solar Capacity and 17.5-GW of Wind But Only 3.2-GW of Net New Natural Gas
- Oct 7, 2022 12:46 am GMT
FERC Foresees Very Strong Solar and Wind Growth in the Near-Term:
Perhaps more dramatic are the trend lines indicated by FERC data for the next three years - i.e., through August 2025.
FERC reports that there may be as much as 195,086-MW of new solar capacity in the pipeline with 67,147-MW classified as "high probability" additions and no offsetting "retirements." The "high probability" additions alone would nearly double utility-scale solar's current installed capacity of 76,040-MW while successful completion of all projects in the pipeline would nearly quadruple it.
In addition, new wind capacity by August 2025 could total 69,954-MW with 17,595-MW being "high probability" and only 146-MW of retirements expected. Thus, installed wind capacity (now 141,100-MW) could grow by at least 12.5% and possibly by much more.
“High probability” generation capacity additions for utility-scale solar and wind combined, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 84,596-MW over the next three years, or over 2,350-MW per month. That figure does not include new distributed, small-scale solar capacity or additions by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass.
Prospects for Natural Gas Plummet:
Possibly more startling is how little net new natural gas capacity FERC anticipates being added over the next three years - just 3,200-MW (i.e., 20,880-MW in "high probability" additions minus 17,680-MW in retirements). That is significantly less net new gas capacity by August 2025 than the new gas capacity that was added in the first two-thirds of 2022. For perspective, in August 2019, FERC had foreseen 19,757-MW of net new natural gas additions in the three-year pipeline. The newly-reported sharp drop in natural gas pipeline projects suggests a major reversal for its future prospects.
FERC also expects new nuclear additions to total 2,200-MW (i.e., the two new reactors being constructed at the Vogtle nuclear plant site near Waynesboro,Georgia).
If just FERC's latest "high probability" projections materialize, by August 2025, renewable energy sources would grow from a bit over a quarter today to nearly a third (31.88%) of the nation's total available installed generating capacity. Utility-scale solar and wind generating capacity would expand from 17.30% of domestic capacity today to 22.78% by August 2025 with solar and wind accounting for 10.81% and 11.97% respectively.
Meanwhile, natural gas' share would contract from 44.25% today to 42.20% by August 2025. If current trends continue or - as seems likely - accelerate, renewable energy generating capacity should overtake that of natural gas by 2030, if not sooner. Moreover, coal's share of the nation's generating capacity would fall from 17.54% to 15.12% by August 2025 while that of nuclear power would decline from 8.16% to 7.90%.
FERC's latest data do not yet reflect the impact of the recently-enacted Inflation Reduction Act. It is therefore not unreasonable to expect the already strong growth of renewable energy to accelerate rapidly in the near term and continue to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power.
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