US new capacity forecast

US new capacity forecast

February 18, 2021 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Storage is expected to account for 11% of new capacity additions this year in the United States, reflecting a rapid rise.       

The US Energy Information Administration said in January that solar, wind and storage combined are expected to account for 81% of total capacity additions in 2021.           

The remaining breakdown, after storage, is 39% solar, 31% wind, 16% natural gas and 3% nuclear. Unit 3 of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia will come on line this year.

Total capacity additions are expected to hit 39,700 megawatts before any additional boost provided by Biden administration policy changes.

That compares to a forecast of 42,000 megawatts in 2020 — which was expected to be a big year because of a deadline (later extended) to complete wind projects to qualify for full tax credits — and 23,700 megawatts in 2019.

Many of the projects that will be completed in 2021 have already been financed.

The expected geographic distribution is interesting, but not surprising.

More than half of the new solar capacity is going into just four states: Texas (28%), Nevada, California and North Carolina.

More than half the new wind capacity is going into just two states: Texas and Oklahoma.

The second US offshore wind project is expected to reach commercial operation later this year — the 12-megawatt pilot-scale CVOW — coastal Virginia offshore wind — project off Virginia Beach. That will make seven offshore wind turbines in total in operation off the US coast. The first large-scale offshore wind project — the 800-megawatt Vineyard project off Massachusetts — is expected to be in the market for financing later this year.

The largest solar-powered battery is expected to go into service in late 2021: the 409-megawatt Manatee solar energy center in Florida.