Combined Cycle Gas Plants Reverse Trend, Adding Nearly Eight GW This Year: EIA

By the end of the year, eight natural gas-fired combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants have either come online or are scheduled to do so, reversing a four-year decline in CCGT start-ups, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The new plants will add 7,775 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity to the electric grid, according to the latest estimates and data from EIA’s Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. The EIA expects CCGT capacity to reach almost 290 gigawatts (GW) by year-end, or 24 percent of total U.S. generating capacity.

Output from CCGT plants, which use combine a gas and steam turbine in a single plant, will likely rise from the 1,326,278 gigawatt hours (GWh) they generated in 2021, which was 32 percent of total electric generation last year. Coal-fired generation ranked second at 22 percent of total generation and nuclear power was third at 19 percent in 2021.

The EIA expects 4,215 MW of CCGT capacity will be added in 2023, when five new plants are slated to open. All of those facilities are under construction and expected to enter service before the end of 2023.

About half of the existing CCGT fleet currently operating entered service between 2000 and 2006. CCGT additions have continued since then albeit it at a slower pace. This year’s additions are about 80 percent below the record level of CCGT additions set in 2002 and 2003, the EIA noted.

Seven of the eight CCGT plants opening this year are either in the upper Midwest or in Florida where they are being built to meet rising demand for electricity and to replace retiring coal-fired power plants, the EIA said.

In Michigan, 1,403 MW of new CCGT capacity will replace the 1,560 MW of existing coal-fired generating capacity scheduled to retire this year.

In Florida, the 2,222 MW of new CCGT capacity will replace 1,486 MW of coal-fired capacity retiring this year.

Three CCGT plants, with 3,918 MW of capacity, are opening this year in the PJM Interconnection region where they will help replace the 5,346 MW of coal-fired capacity in PJM that is retiring this year and the 3,774 MW of coal capacity scheduled to retire next year, EIA said.