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Gas Dominates New Capacity in May but Renewables Poised for Big Gains by 2021

SUN DAY CAMPAIGN: Brief News Update

 

NATURAL GAS DOMINATES NEW ELECTRICAL CAPACITY ADDITIONS

WITH NO NEW WIND REPORTED FOR THE MONTH OF MAY

 

PROPOSED RENEWABLES OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS

TO NEARLY TRIPLE NET NEW CAPACITY

FROM COAL, OIL, GAS & NUCLEAR COMBINED

According to an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign of data just released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), natural gas accounted for 85.0% of new electrical generating capacity additions in May (2,087-MW) with only anemic growth by utility-scale solar (312-MW), biomass (50-MW), hydropower (4-MW), and geothermal (2-MW).

According to the latest issue of FERC’s monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with data for the first five months of 2018), for the second month in a row, no new utility-scale wind capacity was reported. There were also no new capacity additions by coal, oil, or nuclear power.

Year-to-date, gas holds a strong lead (6,646-MW) accounting for 61.9% of all new generating capacity, followed by wind (18.2%) and solar (17.9%). Renewables, including hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, accounted for 37.1% of new capacity additions during the first five months of 2018. The balance (1.0%) came from waste heat, oil, nuclear, and “other” (e.g., fuel cells & storage).

Renewable sources now account for 20.66% of total available installed generating capacity – more than double that of nuclear power (9.12%) and approaching that of coal (23.04%). *

Moreover, over the next three years (i.e., through June 2021), FERC reports that — based on proposed generation additions and retirements — coal will experience a net reduction in capacity of 15,898-MW while gas will experience a net growth of 71,097-MW.

In comparison, net additions by renewables are forecast to nearly triple the net new capacity of coal, oil, gas, and nuclear combined (56,217-MW) and total 156,981-MW (wind: 90,981-MW; solar: 52,216-MW; hydropower: 12,014-MW, geothermal: 1,115-MW, and biomass: 655-MW). **

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The latest issue of FERC’s 7-page “Energy Infrastructure Update” was released on July 5, 2018. It can be found at: https://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2018/may-energy-infrastructure.pdf .  For the information cited in this update, see the tables entitled “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion),” “Total Available Installed Generating Capacity,” and “Proposed Generation Additions and Retirements by June 2021.”

* Capacity is not the same as actual generation. Capacity factors for nuclear power and fossil fuels tend to be higher than those for most renewables although, for the first quarter of 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that renewables accounted for more than 20% of the nation’s total electrical generation, roughly equal to their share of installed generating capacity.

** FERC only reports data for utility-scale facilities (i.e., those rated 1-MW or greater) and therefore its data does not reflect the capacity of distributed renewables, notably rooftop solar PV which accounts for approximately 30% of the nation’s installed solar capacity.

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