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EIA Data Shows Two Years of Rising Gas-Fired Power Plant Additions

The number of natural gas-fired power plants expected to come online in 2023 is on track to hit back-to-back, year-over-year increases, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA expects 16 gas-fired plants with an aggregate capacity of 8.6 gigawatts will have come online by the end of 2023. So far this year, 10 gas-fired plants totaling 6.8 GW have come online in the United States, according to the EIA’s Monthly Electric Generator Inventory.

Last year, a total of 11 gas-fired plants came online, adding 5.6 GW of capacity. Total natural gas-fired capacity additions increased in both 2022 and 2023 after consecutive declines in the prior three years, according to EIA data.

Looking forward, the EIA expects 20 new natural gas-fired power plants, with a total capacity of 7.7 GW, to come online in 2024 and 2025.

The new natural gas-fired power plants being built include both combined-cycle gas turbine plants and simple-cycle gas turbine plants and are concentrated near the Gulf Coast and Appalachia natural gas producing regions and in Florida.

Because they are highly efficient and designed to run for extended periods, combined-cycle gas plants commonly serve both base and peak electricity load. Of the 14.2 GW of gas-fired plants that will have entered service in 2022 and 2023, the EIA said 13 will be combined-cycle plants with a combined capacity of 12.4 GW with each plant achieving an average output of 0.9 GW of electric generating capacity.

Of the 12.4 GW, approximately 5.8 GW of the new combined-cycle capacity is located in Florida and Michigan, both of which produce electricity primarily from natural gas-fired power plants. Only 0.1 GW of combined-cycle plant additions are planned for 2024, the EIA said, but the agency expects 4.8 GW of combined-cycle plants to come online in 2025.

Of the 14.2 GW of new gas-fired capacity that will have entered service in 2022 and 2023, only 14 plants with total capacity of 1.9 GW will be simple-cycle plants, the EIA said, with each plant achieving an average output of almost 140 megawatts.

Although the average capacity of simple-cycle plants is much lower than combined-cycle plants, simple-cycle plants are able to quickly ramp up operations in response to sudden changes in demand or when output from intermittent renewable energy sources is unavailable, the EIA said.

Over half of the new simple-cycle gas turbine capacity coming online in 2022 and 2023 is located in Texas, which has periods of high daily peak electricity demand throughout the summer and has had significant growth in renewable energy during the last few years, the EIA noted.

The EIA expects new simple-cycle plants with an aggregate capacity of 2.8 GW to enter service in 2024 and 2025, mostly in Texas near high population areas.

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