EIA: Most New Generation will be Renewable in 2021

January 11, 2021

Energy Informatiom Agency:

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electricity generators, developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar will account for the largest share of new capacity at 39%, followed by wind at 31%. About 3% of the new capacity will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia. 

Solar photovoltaics. Developers and plant owners expect the addition of utility-scale solar capacity to set a new record by adding 15.4 GW of capacity to the grid in 2021. This new capacity will surpass last year’s nearly 12 GW increase, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and scheduled additions for the last two months of 2020 (5.7 GW). More than half of the new utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is planned for four states: Texas (28%), Nevada (9%), California (9%), and North Carolina (7%). 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 reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and planned additions in November and December (14.9 GW). Texas and Oklahoma account for more than half of the 2021 wind capacity additions. The largest wind project coming online in 2021 will be the 999-megawatt (MW) Traverse wind 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 account for 3.9 GW, and combustion-turbine generators account 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; 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions are slated to come online by the end of 2021. The rapid growth of renewables, such as wind and solar, 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.

5 Responses to “EIA: Most New Generation will be Renewable in 2021”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Is “GW of battery power capacity” the right metric to use for grid storage?

    • That is a pie chart of power capacity. It already mixes in low capacity factor solar with nearly constant nuclear so including batteries is not that egregious. I’ve found that the energy ratings for grid batteries are usually for about 4 hours of power capacity.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        No, it’s a pie chart of NEW power, not old power. Kinda interesting, but what is important is replacing OLD power with RE. And that is still going too slowly.

  2. Nuclear is the Rodney Dangerfield of energy. It gets no respect. This big shiny advanced new plant gets built in Georgia and how does it get presented. It gets slivered into a pie chart of new generating capacity for the whole freak’n country. And the operative word here is “capacity”. Yes, the link and quote make clear that this is “capacity”, but the big bold “Generation” in the post’s title about one radius above is bound to cause some confusion, even to the rare viewer who knows the difference between generation and capacity. The title may turn out to be technically correct, considering that it is in a future sense/tense and that there is adequate transmission infrastructure and places to sell excess peak generation.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Nuclear is the Kim Kardashian of energy. Full of pretty promise, but simply way too expensive and slow to take seriously.

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