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Solar Power Takes the Lead as Developers Add 16.8 Gigawatts in First Half Of Year

In the first half of 2023, developers added 16.8 gigawatts of utility-scale generating capacity and plan to bring an additional 35.2 GW online in the second half of the year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA’s latest inventory of electric generators details that solar power accounted for 5.9 GW, or 35 percent, of the capacity that came online in the first half of the year. Solar power additions fell 4.6 GW short, however, of the capacity expectations that developers and project planners reported at the beginning of the year primarily because of supply chain constraints. Florida, with 25 percent of the national total, added the most solar capacity of any state. 

With 5.7 GW, representing 34 percent of total additions in the first half of the year, new natural gas-fired generation capacity was a close second to solar capacity additions.

The two largest gas-fired projects that came online in the first half of 2023 were the 1,836-megawatt Guernsey Power Station in Ohio and the 1,214-MW CPV Three Rivers Energy Center in Illinois.

Wind power made up 3.2 GW, or 19 percent, of the capacity additions in the first half of the year, followed by battery storage at 1.8 GW, or 11 percent, of the total. Most of the new battery storage capacity was built in Texas and California. Vistra Energy added an additional 350 MW of battery storage to the existing 400 MW of battery storage at the Moss Landing power station in California, making it the country’s largest battery storage facility, the EIA said.

In the second half of 2023, developers plan to add another 35.2 GW of capacity, EIA said. Most of the new capacity -- 55 percent or 19.3 GW -- is expected to be solar power, followed by battery storage, at 7.8 GW, and wind power, at 4.9 GW. Some of that capacity -- specifically 4.6 GW of solar and 3.1 GW of battery storage -- was originally scheduled for the first half of the year but was pushed into the second half.

Of the 15.3 GW of generating capacity that operators plan to retire in 2023, more than half, 8.2 GW, was retired in the first half of the year.

Coal-fired plants will account for 64 percent of the retirements by the end of the year, followed by natural gas, accounting for 30 percent, according to operator plans reported to EIA.

In 2023, operators expect 9.8 GW of coal-fired capacity to retire, which is equal to 5 percent of the total operating coal-fired capacity in the United States at the start of the year.