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The United States is set to add a total of 8.6 gigawatts (GW) of natural gas-fired electric generating capacity in 2023, more than the gas-fired additions in 2022 and 2021, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.
As many as 10 natural gas-fired power plants have already come online so far this year, adding 6.8 GW of electric generating capacity, EIA’s Monthly Electric Generator Inventory showed. Another six gas-fired power plants with a combined power generating capacity of 1.8 GW are expected to start operations by the end of this year, bringing total 2023 additions to 8.6 GW, the EIA said.
The capacity additions from combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants and simple-cycle gas turbine (SCGT) plants in 2023 will be higher than the 5.6 GW of capacity additions that came from 11 new natural gas-fired power plants in 2022.
“Total natural gas-fired capacity additions increased in both 2022 and 2023 after consecutive declines in the prior three years,” the EIA said.
This year’s new gas-fired power plants are concentrated close to the biggest natural gas-producing basins in Appalachia and near the Gulf Coast, as well as in Florida, per the EIA data.
The administration expects 20 new natural gas-fired power plants to come online in the next two years, 2024 and 2025, with a total capacity of 7.7 GW.
Natural gas accounted for 39.8% of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation in 2022, and was the largest source of power generation in America by a mile. Coal and nuclear power followed with 19.5% and 18.2% of utility-scale electricity generation. All renewable energy sources, including hydropower, held a combined share of 21.5% of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation in 2022, with wind having the biggest share of U.S. power generation, at 10.2%.
So far this year, all major U.S. power markets have relied more on natural gas to keep a balanced grid system. Increased gas-powered generation highlights the fact that the fossil fuel continues to play a critical role in balancing the power systems amid high air conditioning demand in heatwaves, lower-than-usual wind speeds, and reduced hydropower generation due to drought.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com