US renewable energy transition to move faster than anticipated by 2022: FERC report

Source: By Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive • Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019

Looking between FERC’s April and May infrastructure updates, renewables appear to be displacing fossil fuel and nuclear capacity at a faster pace. The May Energy Infrastructure Update included an additional 3 GW of coal capacity expected for retirement.

“The revisions in FERC’s latest three-year projections underscore the dramatic changes taking place in the nation’s electrical generating mix,” Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, said in a statement.

“The FERC 3-year forecast of U.S. electrical generating mix is an affirmation that the clean energy transition is underway,” World Resources Institute (WRI) Senior Associate Devashree Saha told Utility Dive via email.

Based on the data aggregated from independent analysts, “there will be effectively no growth in the generating capacity of fossil fuels while renewables will see significant growth in capacity,” Saha said.

While natural gas has become more economic and is expected to grow, more than 10 GW of natural gas generation are expected to be retired in the next three years. Groups like WRI are tracking regional trends to install more natural gas or to pass on gas projects based on state and local support for clean energy.

In a web post published on Monday, Saha highlighted the growing number of state rejections of utility plans to replace coal generation with natural gas amid falling renewable energy prices and climate concerns.

Credit: FERC

The SUN DAY Campaign’s analysis calculated net generation capacity changes by looking at unit retirements and “highly probable” additions. The net new renewable generation capacity will be nearly 27 GW for wind and more than 16 GW for utility-scale solar by June 2022,  according to the May 2019 Energy Infrastructure Update.

“These are fairly conservative numbers with groups like Wood Mackenzie estimating more renewable energy growth,” Saha said.