The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expects 16 new natural gas-fired power plants will begin commercial operation this year, a second straight year of growth in gas-fired generation capacity after three consecutive years of declines.
The EIA in its “Natural Gas Weekly Update” released August 31, citing data from the agency’s “Monthly Electric Generator Inventory” report, said a total of 8.4 GW of gas-fired capacity is expected to come online this year. The EIA said 10 new gas-fired plants, representing 6.6 GW of capacity, already are operating. Another six facilities, with a total of 1.8 GW of generation capacity, are expected online by the end of this year.
The agency said the new power plants include both combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) facilities and simple-cycle gas turbine (SCGT) plants. Most of the new facilities are located in areas near natural gas-producing fields, with the plants concentrated in the Appalachia region and near the Gulf Coast, as well as Florida, according to the EIA.
The agency’s published expectations for new U.S. natural gas-fired power plants come just days after California officials agreed to extend operations at three gas-fired facilities in that state. Power plants in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Oxnard—each of which was originally scheduled to close in 2020 before getting a three-year reprieve—will now be kept in reserve for at least another three years to support the state’s strained power grid.
A fourth facility, the Scattergood Generating Station in Playa Del Rey, is receiving a five-year operating extension that will keep that plant available through 2029.
20 New Plants Expected Online in 2024, 2025
The EIA said 11 natural gas-fired power plants, with 5.5 GW of total generation capacity, came online in 2022. The group expects 20 new gas-fired facilities to come online across 2024 and 2025, with total capacity of 7.7 GW.
A total of 13 new CCGT plants, with combined generation capacity of 11.9 GW, will have entered service from the start of 2022 to the end of this year, according to the EIA. The agency said the new plants are highly efficient, serving both base and peak electricity load, and “designed to run for extended periods of time.” The EIA said 5.8 GW of that total CCGT generation capacity is from plants in Florida and Michigan, both states receiving most of their power from gas-fired facilities.
The EIA said it expects 4.9 GW of additional CCGT capacity to come online in 2024 and 2025, though just 0.1 GW of that total is planned for next year.
New SCGT units, most located in Texas near population centers, are expected to come online during 2024 and 2025, according to the EIA. Those plants represent 2.8 GW of generation capacity. The group said those SCGT facilities, typically smaller that CCGT units, can ramp up quickly when power demand spikes, or when renewable energy is not available.
The agency said 14 SCGT plants will have entered commercial operation from the start of 2022 until the end of this year, representing 1.9 GW of generation capacity.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).