US Solar To Account For Bulk Of New Generation Capacity


               Solar will account for nearly two thirds of “high probability” additions to utility scale power generation capacity in the US over the next three years. The forecast is based on SUN DAY Campaign’s review of data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  In the latest issue of FERC’s monthly Energy Infrastructure Update, “high probability” additions by solar between December 2022 and November 2025 will total 72,809MW. FERC foresees no solar capacity retirements during that time. Such growth would nearly double solar’s share of total available installed generating capacity, increasing it from 78,880MW to 151,690MW (excluding small-scale, distributed solar capacity). In addition, FERC expects wind generating capacity to grow by 16,955MW, with just 140MW of retirements. Hydropower is also expected to increase by 819MW with 46MW of retirements. While FERC projects 17,260MW of “high probability” additions by natural gas, that capacity would be almost entirely offset by 16,954MW of retirements. Similarly, an expected increase of 2200MW in new nuclear capacity would be completely negated by 2323MW in retirements. FERC foresees no new coal capacity over the next three years but does anticipate 17,385MW of retirements as well as a net decrease of 1677MW in oil generating capacity. Between “high probability” additions and retirements among all energy sources, FERC projects a net increase of 71,391MW in installed US generating capacity.

               In effect, new solar would account for the overall net increase in the nation’s total capacity while new wind capacity would roughly displace the net decreases in fossil fuel and nuclear capacity, said SUN Day Campaign. If FERC’s data become reality, by November 2025, solar and wind will have nearly equal shares of US electricity generating capacity, of 11.41% and 12.02% respectively. The combination of all renewables (including hydropower, biomass, and geothermal) will account for almost one third (32.54%) of US generating capacity, up from 27.19% today. Meanwhile, natural gas’ share will drop from 44.15% to 41.80% while coal will fall from 17.34% to 15.10% and nuclear from 8.14% to 7.69%. Contributions by oil and biomass would also fall. Beyond “high probability” additions, FERC also provides data on “all additions” for each energy source that may be in the three-year pipeline. Solar dominates with 201,637MW, followed by 67,950MW for wind, while hydropower accounts for another 12,400MW. By comparison, natural gas has only 33,547MW. “The combined generating capacity of solar and wind is now greater than either coal or nuclear power,” said SUN DAY Campaign executive director Ken Bossong.  “Moreover, if the current trajectory persists or accelerates, generating capacity by the mix of all renewables should overtake that of natural gas before 2030 and possibly much sooner.”






Credits: [Image: Unsplash/Antonio Garcia]

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