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Solar, Natural Gas Make Up Two-Thirds of Generating Additions in 2016

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U.S. power generation continues to shift towards low-carbon energy sources. 

Last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that natural gas, solar and wind will make up almost all generating additions in 2016. 

According to EIA's Electric Power Monthly, electric generating facilities are expected to add about 26 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the electricity grid this year. Altogether, solar (9.5 GW) and natural gas (8.0 GW) are expected to lead the way, making up more than two-thirds of total additions. 

The chart below highlights the scheduled capacity additions by type and month. 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

After another record-breaking year for the solar industry, utility-scale solar additions are projected to hit 9.5 GW in 2016, the most of any source and significantly higher than the 3.1 GW added in 2015. By state, California (3.9 GW), North Carolina (1.1 GW), Nevada (0.9 GW), Texas (0.7 GW), and Georgia (0.7 GW) will add the most utility-scale solar in 2016. 

Natural gas — which has made up most of the capacity additions over the past 20 years — is expected to add 8 GW this year, a slight increase over the five-year average of 7.8 GW. In total, four states are projected to add more than 1 GW of natural gas-fired generating capacity in 2016: Pennsylvania (1.6 GW), Virginia (1.4 GW), Florida (1.3 GW) and Texas (1.1 GW).

The map below helps illustrate the type and location of generating units expected to come online this year. 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

The EIA's report on generating additions for 2016 follows a recent analysis on U.S. power sector emissions by the Sierra Club, which found that the sector's annual carbon emissions last year dropped to the lowest levels since 1995.

You can read the EIA's full report here. To learn about other important electricity and natural gas trends, please check out the Weekly Energy Market Update

Posted: March 11, 2016

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