As Solar Continues to Grow, so Does Natural Gas

According to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), ten natural gas-fired power plants have come online in the United States so far in 2023, with a total of 6.8 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity.

“By the end of 2023, we expect another six natural gas-fired power plants with another 1.8 GW of capacity to come online, bringing total 2023 capacity additions to 8.6 GW,” said the report.

The additions include both combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants and simple-cycle gas turbine (SCGT) plants concentrated near the Gulf Coast and the Appalachia natural gas-producing regions, as well as in Florida.

In 2022, a total of 11 natural gas-fired power plants came online, adding 5.6 GW of capacity.

One point of interest is that total natural gas-fired capacity additions increased in both 2022 and 2023 after consecutive declines in the prior three years. In addition: “In the next two years (2024 and 2025), we expect 20 new natural gas-fired power plants to come online with a total capacity of 7.7 GW,” said the report.

CCGT Details: CCGT plants commonly serve both base and peak electricity load, because they are highly efficient and designed to run for extended periods of time. During 2022 and 2023, a total of 13 new CCGT plants with a combined capacity of 12.4 GW will have entered service. The average output for each of the 13 CCGT plants is 0.9 GW of electric generating capacity. Approximately 5.8 GW of this total capacity is located in Florida and Michigan. “These two states already produce electricity primarily from natural gas-fired power plants,” said the report “We expect 4.9 GW of additional CCGT additions in 2024 and 2025, only 0.1 GW of which is planned for 2024.”

SCGT Details: During 2022 and 2023, 14 SCGT plants with total capacity of 1.9 GW will have begun operations. The average output for each of the 14 SCGT plants is almost 140 megawatts of electric generating capacity. Although the average capacity of SCGT plants is much lower than it is for CCGT plants, SCGT plants are able to quickly ramp up operations in response to sudden changes in demand, or when output from intermittent renewable energy sources is unavailable. Over half of the new SCGT capacity coming online in 2022 and 2023 is located in Texas, which has periods of high daily peak electricity demand throughout the summer and has had significant growth in renewable energy during the last few years. The report also noted that additional new SCGT units with a total capacity of 2.8 GW, mostly located in Texas near high population areas, are expected to enter service in 2024 and 2025.


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