U.S. Generating Capacity Continues to Grow

In the first half of 2023, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), developers added 16.8 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to the U.S. power grid. Developers plan to bring an additional 35.2 GW of capacity online in the second half of the year.

(The data comes from EIA’s “Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory,” which compiles information on all U.S. utility-scale power plants [plants with a nameplate capacity of at least 1 MW] that are currently operating, planning to come online, or retired. The inventory includes all utility-scale units that have retired since 2002.)

OPERATING CAPACITY: Solar power accounted for the largest share, 35 percent (5.9 GW), of the capacity that came online in the first half of 2023. That new capacity is 4.6 GW less than what developers and project planners reported expecting for the period at the beginning of the year. Supply chain constraints were the primary cause for this shortfall. Florida, with 25 percent of the national total, added the most solar capacity of any state. Florida Power and Light, the largest power utility in Florida, added almost 80 percent of the solar capacity added in the state.

Natural gas is used to fuel 34 percent (5.7 GW) of the U.S. capacity added in the first half of 2023, a close second to solar power. The two largest projects that came online in the first half of 2023 were natural gas-fired plants: the 1,836-megawatt (MW) Guernsey Power Station in Ohio and the 1,214-MW CPV Three Rivers Energy Center in Illinois.

Wind made up 19 percent (3.2 GW) of capacity additions.

In fourth place was battery storage at 11 percent (1.8 GW). Most of the new battery storage capacity was built in Texas and California. Vistra Energy added an additional 350 MW of battery storage to the existing 400 MW of battery storage at Moss Landing power station in California, making it the country’s largest battery storage facility.

PLANNED CAPACITY: Developers plan to add another 35.2 GW of new capacity in the second half of 2023. Most of the planned capacity is solar (at 55 percent, or 19.3 GW), followed by battery storage (7.8 GW) and wind (4.9 GW). Some of it – 4.6 GW of solar and 3.1 GW of battery storage capacity, was originally scheduled for the first half of the year and was rescheduled for the second half.

A third reactor at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant, which was scheduled to come online in March, began commercial operation at the end of July. The 1.1 GW reactor is the first new U.S. nuclear reactor to start operation since Watts Bar 2 was commissioned in 2016.

RETIRED CAPACITY: Of the 15.3 GW of electric generating capacity that U.S. operators plan to retire in 2023, more than half (8.2 GW) was retired in the first half of the year. According to operator plans, coal-fired power plants will account for 64 percent of the retirements by the end of the year, followed by natural gas (30 percent). In 2023, operators expect 9.8 GW of coal-fired capacity to retire, five percent of the U.S. coal-fired capacity that was operating at the start of the year.


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