Monday, August 20, 2012

Natural Gas, Renewables Dominate Electric Capacity Additions in First Half of 2012

During the first half of 2012, 165 new electric power generators were added in 33 states, for a total of 8,098 megawatts (MW) of new capacity. Of the ten states with the highest levels of capacity additions, most of the new capacity uses natural gas or renewable energy sources. Capacity additions in these ten states total 6,500 MW, or 80% of the new capacity added nationally in the first six months of 2012.

Most of the new generators built over the past 15 years are powered by natural gas or wind. In 2012, the addition of natural gas and renewable generators comes at a time when natural gas and renewable generation are contributing increasing amounts to total generation across much of the United States.

In particular, efficient combined-cycle natural gas generators are competitive with coal generators over a large swath of the country. And, in the first half of 2012, these combined-cycle generators were added in states that traditionally burn mostly coal (with the exception of Idaho, which has significant hydroelectric resources).

graph of electricity capacity additions for the top ten states for the first half of 2012, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860M "Monthly Update to the Annual Electric Generator Report."
Data are preliminary and include all generators at plants >1MW in capacity, from the electric power, commercial, and industrial sectors. "Other renewables" includes hydroelectric, geothermal, landfill gas, and biomass generators.  

Only one coal fired generator was brought online in the first half of 2012, an 800-MW unit at the Prairie State Energy Campus in Illinois. In its 2011 annual survey of power plant operators, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) received no new reports of planned coal fired generators. Of the planned coal generators in EIA databases, 14 are reported in the construction phrase, with an additional 5 reporting a planned status but not yet under construction.

However, only one of the 14 advanced from a pre-construction to an under-construction status between the 2010 and 2011 surveys.....Read the entire EIA article.

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