Electric generating facilities are expected to add more than 26 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid this year, according to a report from the EIA. The majority of that increase is expected to come from increased solar generating capacity, with natural gas making up the second-largest portion of the gains to overall electrical capacity.

EIA Electric Generation Gains 2016

Additions from solar are expected to reach 9.5 GW, or 37% of increases, while natural gas is expected to add 8.0 GW, or approximately 31% increases of power over the next year. Combined with wind, the three sources make up 93% of total additions for 2016. The combined additions from renewables will make up about 64% of additions to electric generating capacity next year.

The spike in December is typical, says the EIA. “This happens because of expiration of federal, state, or local tax credits on December 31, or because of how respondents complete the survey. Many projects expected to begin operations sometime in 2016 are conservatively estimated for December completion date.”

The 9.5 GW of solar power additions represent more than the total solar installations for the past three years combined (9.4 GW during 2013-15). The top five states where solar capacity is being added are California (3.9 GW), North Carolina (1.1 GW), Nevada (0.9 GW), Texas (0.7 GW), and Georgia (0.7 GW). The additions do not reflect increased use of rooftop solar units.

Natural gas additions continue to grow, with the 8.0 GW of expected power from natural gas in 2016 is slightly above the 7.8 GW of annual additions made over the last five years. Four states plan to add more than 1 GW of natural gas-fired capacity this year: Pennsylvania (1.6 GW), Virginia (1.4 GW), Florida (1.3 GW), and Texas (1.1 GW).

EIA Utility Scale Electrical Additions Map

Current electric generating fuel use

The chart below shows the overall net electricity generation by fuel type, by region, in December 2015 (source: EIA). The percentage of electricity from renewables such as solar and wind may be growing, but the use of coal and natural gas far outweighs the use of renewables. The Central U.S. was the largest user of renewables in its electricity mix in December; while Florida, the Southeast and the Northeast were the smallest. The Southeast was the largest user of natural gas in December.

EIA Net Eletric Generation

Legal Notice