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Growth in Electricity Generation Capacity and Consumption in USA [free access]

September 9, 2019

As of 2018, the United States of America (USA) had an installed capacity of 1,243 GW, of which 43.7 per cent was based on natural gas, 23.4 per cent was coal-based, 12.35 per cent was renewable energy-based, 8.64 per cent was nuclear-based, 8 per cent was hydro-based, and the rest was based on other sources of energy. Among the renewable energy sources, the key contributor was wind energy with a 7.76 per cent share of total installed capacity, followed by solar energy (2.76 per cent), biomass energy (1.39 per cent), and other sources of renewable energy (0.44 per cent).

 

During the first half of 2019 (January–June), more than 10 GW of generation capacity was installed in the country, which brought the total installed capacity to 1,253 GW. Key contributors were natural gas with more than 6.5 GW of capacity addition, followed by wind energy (1.78 GW) and solar energy (1.87 GW).

 

Renewable energy, led by wind power, continues to expand in the USA. As of December 2018, the country had an estimated 96 GW of wind capacity, which grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11.5 per cent during 2011–18. Utility-scale solar capacity has also shown a significant CAGR of 50.12 per cent during the period with the addition of 34 GW of capacity. During the period, generation capacity based on biomass and other renewable energy sources grew at a CAGR of 3.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively.

 

The country is also retiring its old conventional energy-based generation projects. During 2011–18, 53 GW of coal-based capacity was retired in the country. As a result, the total installed generation capacity in the US marked a CAGR of only a little over 1 per cent during 2011–18.

 

Table 1: Growth in installed operating generation capacity by fuel-type (GW) 

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

(Till June 2019)

Coal  

344

338

331

327

305

291

291

291

291

Natural gas 

478

492

486

493

501

512

524

544

550

Hydropower  

100

98

98

98

100

101

101

101

101

Nuclear 

109

107

107

107

107

107

107

107

108

Wind

45

58

61

65

74

83

90

96

98

Biomass 

14

15

16

16

17

17

17

17

17

Solar 

2

4

8

11

15

24

30

34

36

Other renewable energy sources 

4

4

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

Others 

54

42

48

47

46

46

46

46

46

Total

1,149

1,158

1,159

1,169

1,169

1,184

1,212

1,243

1,253

Note: Other renewable energy resources include installed capacity of geothermal systems and waste heat projects; and others include installed capacity of oil and other energy based projects.

Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

 

During 2011–18, the net generation and total consumption in the country reduced marginally. The USA is a net importer of power, mainly from Canada. During the same period, power imports rose at a CAGR of more than 5 per cent, while exports fell by 3.2 per cent.  

 

Table 2: Net generation, imports, exports and consumption (TWh) 

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018E

Net generation 

4,100

4,048

4,066

4,094

4,078

4,077

4,034

4,023

Imports 

52

59

69

67

76

81

76

NA

Exports 

15

12

11

13

9

10

12

NA

Consumption/sales 

3,883

3,832

3,868

3,903

3,900

3,903

3,865

3,862

Note E: Net generation and consumption for 2018 has been estimated based on CAGR between 2011–17.

Source: US Energy Information Administration (EIA)