U.S. Power Generation Stack in Pictures
We take a look at EIA 860-m data to visualize the growth and fuel source changes of the U.S. power stack
The U.S. power generation stack includes 1,192 GW of operating coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and battery capacity as of April 2022
These fuel sources represent 95% of all existing, prior and planned U.S. generation capacity
Natural gas and coal capacity continue to represent 66% of total capacity
34%, 13% and 9.1% of the installed coal, natural gas and nuclear capacity has been retired, respectively
There have been no material coal capacity additions since 2013
Surprisingly, planned natural gas additions exceed planned solar
Renewable capacity additions to-date are significant, yet not particularly eye-popping
Power Play - 130 Years of U.S. Power Generation
Despite the focus on energy transition and the ever-growing green movement, the U.S. power stack still remains very black (coal) and brown (natural gas).
We show U.S. operating capacity additions by year and fuel source both together and individually to highlight the time it took to build the current capacity and challenges for a quick transition off fossil fuels.
Note: the scale of the individual fuel source components is held constant for proper context.
There is considerable angst in the market today regarding baseload capacity retirements. Coal retirements represent 54% of all capacity sunsetting, while coal and natural gas represent 94% combined.
What gets lost in the retirement conversation is the age of the facilities being retired. 85% and 79% of coal and natural gas retirements, respectively, were built between 1950 and 1980 meaning those power plants would be roughly 40 to 70 years old today.
More to come on these topics soon.