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Solar Power Leads Capacity Additions in Integrated Resource Plans: EPRI Report

Electric company resource capacity, led by solar power capacity additions, will grow rapidly through 2030, with demand driven by industrial consumption and economy-wide electrification, according to the Electric Power Research Institute.

The EPRI report projects 238 gigawatts of solar capacity will be installed through 2050, followed by 90 GW of wind power and 86 GW of battery storage. EPRI also reports 80 GW of existing coal capacity is planned for retirement while half the existing coal capacity listed in integrated resource plans is scheduled to remain operational past 2040.

Nameplate capacity across all resource plans is planned to grow at an average rate of 4.2 percent per year through 2035, EPRI said, adding that 47 percent of the planned capacity addition, or 27.3 GW a year on average, will occur by 2030 with 73 percent occurring by 2035, and 88 percent occurring by 2040.

Renewable resources consist of 84 percent of the planned capacity additions, the report found.

The largest relative planned capacity growth is in the Northwest, with nameplate capacity increasing 89 percent by 2030 from 2023 levels, EPRI said.

The EPRI report analyzed electric company resource plans covering approximately half the United States electricity system, excluding most of the northeast, Texas, and many rural areas. EPRI also noted that six of the 10 largest metropolitan areas, mostly areas in deregulated electricity markets, are not covered by integrated resource plans, and many rural areas are also not covered by IRPs.

The regions covered by IRPs are mostly in the Southeast and California, as well as urban areas across the West, Midwest, and Southwest. EPRI also noted that 45 percent of peak demand and 47 percent of installed electricity generation capacity in the United States is covered by an integrated resource plan. And, EPRI noted, most resource plans include carbon dioxide reduction targets so that 80 percent of resource planning customers are covered by a 2050 net-zero target. 

In all, of the 1,253 GW of the installed generation capacity in the U.S. in 2022, 594 GW are covered by IRPs, EPRI said.

In terms of costs, about 77 percent of IRPs use costs between $800 and $1,300 per kilowatt hour for solar power installations while most planners projected a slight upward trend in nominal costs for wind power installations. About 86 percent of IRPs assume future battery costs of between $750 and $1,500 per kilowatt for battery storage installations, the report found.

EPRI said its analysis of resource portfolios and load projections also included a “deep dive” into CO2 reduction targets, technology cost expectations, and key IRP themes, including extreme weather, stakeholder engagement, and equity considerations.

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