U.S. Generating Capacity Jumped In 2018: EIA

31.3 GW added, mostly from natural gas combine-cycle plants

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that 31.3 GW of generating capacity were added in the U.S. in 2018, the largest jump since 2003 when 48.8 GW were added.

The EIA also found that 18.7 GW of capacity were retired in 2018, mostly coal-powered facilities. The additions were mostly powered by natural gas (62%), followed by wind (21%) and solar (16%). Almost 90% of the 19.3 GW of the natural gas-fired capacity in the United States added in 2018 were combined-cycle generators, the most efficient natural gas-fired generating technology. Pennsylvania accounted for almost 25% (4.4 GW) of all 2018 domestic natural gas additions, and three other states—Maryland, Virginia, and Florida—accounted for about 30%.

In 2018, 6.6 GW of wind capacity came online, almost 60% (3.8 GW) of which was added in December. Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma added a combined 4.0 GW of wind capacity, more than 60% of total U.S. wind additions.

About 60% of the 4.9 GW of U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) additions in 2018 occurred in California (1.1 GW), Florida (1.0 GW), and North Carolina (0.6 GW). These numbers only represent utility-scale solar and do not include small-scale PV, the EIA said.

A total of 12.9 GW of coal-fired capacity was retired in 2018. Nearly 80% of coal retirements came from units located in only four states—Texas (4.3 GW), Ohio (2.3 GW), Florida (2.0 GW), and Wisconsin (1.7 GW).

Although 4.7 GW of U.S. natural gas-fired capacity retired in 2018, 93% (4.4 GW) of those retirements were from natural gas steam and combustion turbine units, which are less efficient natural gas-fired generating technologies that typically operate at lower capacity factors than more efficient combined-cycle units, the EIA said.

New Jersey was the only state to retire nuclear capacity, retiring 0.6 GW of capacity when the Oyster Creek plant retired in September.

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