EIA Anticipates Growth in New Natural-Gas-Fired Generation Capacity in 2018, While New Renewable Capacity Remains Flat

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released information on new generation capacity expected to come online in 2018.  This report is based on data from January and February and on estimates for the remainder of the year derived from EIA’s Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory.

The 2018 capacity additions tell two different stories, one for renewable generation capacity and one for natural-gas-fired generation capacity.  The total amount of new capacity expected in 2018 is 32 GW, which is greater than the capacity additions of any other year in the past decade and more than a 50 percent increase over 2017.  This increase, however, is driven exclusively by growth in new natural-gas-fired generation capacity.  New natural gas capacity is expected to more than double from about 9.5 GW in 2017 to about 20.5 GW in 2018.  This is just under the total amount of new capacity that came online in 2017.  About half of the new natural gas capacity in 2018 will come from combined-cycle units added in the PJM region, specifically 5.2 GW in Pennsylvania, 1.9 GW in Maryland, and 1.9 GW in Virginia.

In contrast, new renewable capacity in 2018 is expected to be approximately 11.5 GW, the same amount of renewable capacity added in 2017.  As a result, for the first time in five years, new renewable capacity is expected to comprise less than half of the total annual new capacity.  EIA expects approximately 5 GW of new wind capacity in 2018, 2 GW of which will be located in Texas.  Approximately 4 GW of new solar capacity will be added, half of which will come from solar photovoltaic additions in California, North Carolina, and Texas.

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