Natural Gas Leads Power Plant Capacity Additions

September 10, 2014 By Karen Henry

EIApowerplant-energy-manageIn the first six months of 2014, 4,350 MW of new utility-scale generating capacity came online, according to preliminary data from the US Energy Information Administration’s “Electric Power Monthly” report. Natural gas plants, almost all combined-cycle plants, made up more than half of the additions, while solar plants contributed more than a quarter and wind plants around one-sixth.

Utility-scale capacity additions in the first half of 2014 were 40 percent less than they were in the same period last year. Natural gas additions were down by about half, while solar additions were up by nearly 70 percent. Wind additions have more than doubled compared the first half of 2013.

Florida added the most capacity—1,210 MW—all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity. California was a close second, adding just under 1,100 MW, of which about 77 percent was solar and 21 percent was wind. The remaining additions came from natural gas and other sources. Utah and Texas combined for another 1,000 MW, nearly all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity with some solar and wind capacity in Texas.

Natural gas additions of combined-cycle plants were up by 60 percent compared to the same period last year. The 2,179 MW of natural gas additions include 1,212 at the new Riviera plant in Florida, a 629-MW expansion at the Lake Side Power Plant in Utah, a 183-MW addition at the Channel Energy Center in Texas and a 155-MW addition at the Deer Park Energy Center, also in Texas.

Solar additions were up nearly 70 percent compared to the same period last year. About three-quarters of this solar capacity was located in California PV plants, with Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts making up most of the rest.

Wind additions totaled 675 MW—more than double the amount added in the same period last year. Additions were concentrated in California, Nebraska, Michigan and Minnesota. Other additions include a 122 MW hydroelectric turbine at the Wanapum Dam in Washington.

There were no additions of coal capacity in the first six months of 2014.

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