Renewables dominate new US electricity
Solar and wind to account for 76% of new generation in 2020 Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – January 22, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:10am
More than three quarters of new electrical generation in the United States this year will come from renewable sources, according to a recent U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report.
New solar and wind facilities slated to come online during 2020 are expected to generate 32 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, roughly enough electricity to power 23.2 million homes, which is 76 percent of the 44 GW of new capacity expected to be added in the U.S. this year. Another 2 percent will come from hydroelectric generators and battery storage.
The balance of the new generation, 22 percent, will come from natural gas fired generators.
Wind is the single largest contributor to new electrical generation in 2020.
Roughly 18.5 GW of wind generated electricity is expected to be added to America's electrical grid this year, which is about 44 percent of the total. This is the most wind energy ever added in the U.S. during a single year, surpassing the previous record of 23.2 GW added in 2012.
One of the reasons for the record setting pace is the expected expiration of the U.S. production tax credit at the end of 2020.
When renewed in 2013, the production tax credit provided a maximum tax credit for wind generation of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the first 10 years of production. As part of a planned phase-out, this credit decreased by 20 percentage points per year from 2017 through 2019 and facilities that began construction after 2019 are not eligible.
The phase-out of the production tax credit extension is also reflected in the amount of wind capacity added in 2019, which is currently calculated to be about 11.8 GW.
More than 60 percent of this new electricity isn't expected to be delivered to U.S. customers until around the end of the year, likely in November and December.
Roughly 32 percent of the new wind power will be added in Texas. The next closest state is Oklahoma, at 6 percent.
At 13.5 GW, solar photovoltaics (PV) was the second largest contributor to new utility-scale electrical generation during 2020. This overshadows the previous record of 8 GW, set in 2016.
EIA also expects the residential and commercial solar sectors to experience record growth this year as a result of new distributed PV or rooftop systems. EIA currently estimates an additional 5.1 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2020.
Texas will also be the site of the largest new additions of utility-scale solar PV, accounting for about 22 percent of the new installations this year. California (15 percent), Florida (11 percent) and South Carolina (10 percent) will account for much of the rest.
In addition to filling market growth, the new renewable generation is replacing the 11 GW of traditional electrical generation slated for retirement in the U.S. this year.
At 5.8 GW, coal makes up more than half of America's electrical generating capacity slated for retirement this year. Most of the coal fired power plants being retired this year are in Kentucky and Ohio.
Another 3.7 GW of electrical generation capacity going offline this year will come from the retirement of older natural gas-fired power plants, primarily facilities that were built in the 1950s and 1960s.
These retirements will be more than made up for with the addition of 9.3 GW of electricity expected to be generated by modern natural gas fired power plants slated to come online this year. More than 70 percent of these additions are in Pennsylvania, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
Two nuclear plants totaling 1.6 GW – Indian Point Unit 2 in New York and Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa – are also slated for retirement in 2020.