Renewables To Dominate New U.S. Power Capacity In 2021

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Renewable energy, mostly solar and wind, are set to account for more than two-thirds of the new electricity generation capacity that the United States will install this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its latest inventory of electricity generators on Monday.

A total of 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity is expected to start commercial operation in 2021, with solar photovoltaics (PV) accounting for 39 percent of the new capacity. Wind power generation capacity will represent 31 percent of the newly installed U.S. electricity generating capacity this year, followed at a distant third by natural gas with 16 percent of new generation.

The capacity of utility-scale battery storage is set to more than quadruple, as 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions are scheduled to come online by the end of 2021. Battery storage will account for 11 percent of all U.S. planned capacity additions this year. About 3 percent, or 1.1 GW, of the new capacity will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia.

Solar installations of 15.4 GW are set to beat this year the 2020 record of 12 GW, according to EIA estimates. Four states will host more than half of the new utility-scale solar PV capacity in 2021—Texas, Nevada, California, and North Carolina.

In wind power additions, Texas and Oklahoma will account for more than half of the new wind capacity in 2021, while more than 70 percent of the planned 6.6 GW natural gas-fired capacity additions will be in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Despite market uncertainty and construction delays in the pandemic, U.S. renewable power capacity installations surged to a record in 2020.

Both the solar and wind power markets registered record capacity additions in 2020, while electricity generation from those renewable energy sources saw double-digit increases amid a decline in the overall U.S. power generation market due to reduced consumption in the pandemic.

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