The United States’ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has apparently “dramatically revised” its three-year forecast for changes in the country’s electrical generating capacity mix, according to the SUN DAY Campaign, with sharp declines expected for fossil fuel and nuclear generation offset by even stronger growth in renewable energy.
According to an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s most recent “Energy Infrastructure Update” for May — published on July 5, detailing data through May 31 — there has been a sharp movement in favor of renewable energy sources. Specifically, according to FERC’s “Proposed Generation Additions and Retirements by June 2022,” fossil fuel generation will be slashed as the coal industry is expected to see retirements of 17,054 megawatts (MW) by June 2022, with the installation of only 1 coal unit worth a measly 17 MW. Natural gas will continue to grow in strength over the same period, but the country’s nuclear capacity is expected to plummet by 7,286 MW.
FERC’s monthly infrastructure updates have shown a continually in-flux coal industry with expected retirements fluctuating between 17 gigawatts (GW), 13.9 GW, and 14.6 GW over just the last three months. Nuclear’s predicted capacity has been in a lesser state of flux, with expected retirements of between 9 GW and 8.3 GW. The biggest change for the nuclear industry is the proposed additions, which fell from 4,800 MW by the end of March to only 1,100 MW by the end of May.
Natural gas has similarly seen very little fluctuation in its expected additions and retirements, with expectations at the end of May of additions of 28,263 MW and retirements of 10,105 MW.
On the other hand, in the last couple of months, expectations for wind capacity additions have blossomed, growing from an expected increase in capacity of 25,105 MW between now and April 2022, to a new expected increase in capacity of 27,128 MW by June 2022 — an added 2 GW. Solar, on the other hand, similarly benefited from an upward revised projection, growing from an expected capacity increase of 12,927 MW between now and April 2022 to a new expected increase in capacity of 16,303 MW — another 2.2 GW.
Overall, between now and the middle of 2022, FERC expects the renewable energy industry to add a total of 45 GW of new generating capacity.
“The revisions in FERC’s latest three-year projections underscore the dramatic changes taking place in the nation’s electrical generating mix,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, in an email to journalists. “Renewable energy sources are rapidly displacing uneconomic and environmentally dangerous fossil fuels and nuclear power – even faster than FERC had anticipated only a month ago.”
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