Renewables represent 73 percent of electricity generating capacity gains in 2021

In an inventory of electricity generators for 2021, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that the bulk of 39.7 GW of new electricity generating capacity for the year will come from renewable sources.

Solar stands to gain the most this year, representing 39 percent of new capacity, but it will be closely followed by wind generation, at 31 percent. Another 3 percent will come from a new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia. Both battery storage and natural gas are expected to expand by gigawatts worth of capacity as well.

For solar, these additions can be split into two parts: utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity and small-scale. Utility-scale should reach 15.4 GW of new capacity this year, breaking the previous 12 GW record for a single year, set in 2020. Most of this will be focused on Texas, Nevada, California, and North Carolina. However, even small-scale solar is getting a 4.1 GW boost.

In terms of wind power, another 12.2 GW is expected to be added in 2021, falling short of the 21 GW that came online last year. Texas and Oklahoma can account for a full half of the additions to come, including a 999 MW wind farm in Oklahoma. The sizable and unique 12 MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project is also scheduled to begin operations this year.

The remainder of the gains can be credited to natural gas and battery storage. Natural gas capacity additions should reach 6.6 GW, driven especially by efforts in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Utility-battery storage is expected to quadruple what capacity currently exists, adding 4.3 GW this year to support other renewables like wind and solar power.

Chris Galford

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