Renewables account for most new U.S. capacity in 2021, says EIA

EIA Graph 1

Of the 39.7 GW of new electric generating capacity projected to begin commercial operation in 2021, renewables will dominate the mix, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electricity generators. EIA says that developers and power plant owners estimate solar will account for the largest share at 39%, followed by wind at 31%, while about 3% will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia.

Solar photovoltaics (PV). The addition of utility-scale solar capacity is anticipated to set a new record with 15.4 GW of new capacity in 2021. This will surpass last year’s nearly 12-GW increase, based on additions in October (6 GW) and November and December combined (5.7 GW). Over half of the new utility-scale solar PV capacity is planned for four states: Texas (28%), Nevada (9%), California (9%) and North Carolina (7%). Also, EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts an additional 4.1 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2021.

Wind. Another 12.2 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2021. Last year, 21 GW of wind came online, based on additions through October (6 GW) and November and December (14.9 GW). Texas and Oklahoma account for more than half of the 2021 wind capacity additions. The largest wind project that aims to come online in 2021 will be the 999-MW Traverse farm in Oklahoma. The 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, is also scheduled to start commercial operation in early 2021.

Natural gas. For 2021, planned natural gas capacity additions are reported at 6.6 GW. Combined-cycle generators will account for 3.9 GW and combustion-turbine generators for 2.6 GW. More than 70% of these planned additions are in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Battery storage. EIA expects the capacity of utility-scale battery storage to more than quadruple, as 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions should come online by the end of 2021. The rapid growth of renewables is a major driver in the expansion of battery capacity because battery storage systems are increasingly paired with renewables. The world’s largest solar-powered battery (409 MW) is under construction at Manatee Solar Energy Center in Florida. The battery is scheduled to be operational by late 2021.

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