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

06 Jul 2018

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). **