US power trends highlight growing role of natural gas

12 December 2017 (Last Updated December 12th, 2017 16:39)

The installed generation capacity in the US reached 1,197 gigawatts (GW) in 2016 from 1,133 GW in 2010 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1% and is expected to reach 1,562 GW by 2030 at a CAGR of 1.9%. Power demand is expected to reach 4,222 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2030 or 13% of the global share at a CAGR of 1%. In addition 316,000 megawatts (MW) capacity is under different phases of development of which 96 GW is under construction and more than 219 GW capacity is pending approval (APPA Report, 2017).

US power trends highlight growing role of natural gas

The installed generation capacity in the US reached 1,197 gigawatts (GW) in 2016 from 1,133 GW in 2010 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1% and is expected to reach 1,562 GW by 2030 at a CAGR of 1.9%. Power demand is expected to reach 4,222 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2030 or 13% of the global share at a CAGR of 1%. In addition 316,000 megawatts (MW) capacity is under different phases of development of which 96 GW is under construction and more than 219 GW capacity is pending approval (APPA Report, 2017).

The most remarkable feature of the US power market of late is that of natural gas overtaking coal as the main source of electricity generation since April 2015 and presently contributing 43% of the energy mix with an installed capacity of 525 GW as of 2017. Coal, with a share of 24% and a cumulative installed capacity of 290 GW, is the second-largest power source in the country. The tough competition from natural gas helped stabilize coal prices. Nuclear, with an installed capacity of around 100 GW, has a share of 8% in the energy mix.

Electricity consumption increased from 3,410 TWh in 2000 to 3,699 TWh in 2016 at a CAGR of 0.5%. It is further expected to increase to 4,222 TWh by 2030 from 3,733 TWh in 2017 at a CAGR of 1%. By 2030, gas-based power generation is expected to witness a maximum capacity addition of 630 GW, followed by solar photovoltaic (PV) (250GW), coal (208 GW), wind (181 GW), hydro (121 GW), and nuclear (101 GW).

The data indicates the increased contribution of non-conventional power sources like solar, wind, small hydro, pump storage, and others in the near future. Friendly policies such as the federal tax credit for wind power with priority grid access and higher emission standards, along with a friendly market environment where renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with conventional power sources, indicate the bright prospects for renewable energy in the US in the near future.