Energy Outlook, Update and Forecast

Source: SUN DAY CAMPAIGN (founded 1992)

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HIGHLIGHTS AND ANALYSES: 
FERC’S “ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE” (December 1, 2022) 

and

EIA’S “SHORT-TERM ENERGY OUTLOOK” (December 6, 2022) FERC AND EIA DATA FORECAST

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH FOR SOLAR AND CONTINUED EXPANSION OF WIND 
AS RENEWABLES’ SHARE OF US GENERATING CAPACITY SURPASSES 27% AND IS 71% OF NEW CAPACITY ADDITIONS YTD 
GAS, COAL, OIL, AND NUCLEAR CAPACITY ALL PROJECTED TO DROP 

According to data just released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), solar is poised for explosive growth over the next several years while wind continues to expand.  

Moreover, utility-scale (i.e. > 1-megawatt (MW)) solar and wind each added significantly more new generating capacity than did natural gas during the first ten months of 2022.  

Renewables Provide Almost 71% of New Capacity in First Ten Months of 2022

According to the latest issue of FERC’s monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” (with data through October 31, 2022), solar (7,363-MW) and wind (7,378-MW) each provided 20% more new generating capacity during the first ten months of this year than did natural gas (6,087-MW). Combined with capacity additions by geothermal (90-MW), biomass (22-MW), and hydropower (14-MW), renewable energy sources accounted for 14,873-MW or 70.9% of the 20,991-MW of new generation put into service thus far this year.  

Besides natural gas, the balance came from nuclear power (17-MW) and oil (14-MW). No new capacity was reported for 2022 from coal. 

Moreover, renewables provided 99.1% (487-MW) of the new capacity reported in October alone with nearly equal amounts provided by solar (397-MW) and wind (393-MW) as well as 7-MW of new hydropower. This includes the 393.2-MW Apogee Wind Project in Haskell County, Texas, the 106.0-MW SR Clay Solar Project in Clay County, Georgia, and the 100.0-MW Rabbitbrush Solar Plant in Kern County, California among others.  

These recent additions bring renewable energy’s share of total U.S. available installed generating capacity up to 27.04%: wind – 11.29%, hydropower – 8.04%, solar – 6.18%, biomass – 1.21%, and geothermal – 0.32%. For comparison, five years earlier, renewables’ share was 19.91%. Ten years ago, it was 14.93%. 

FERC and EIA Foresee Dramatic Growth by Solar and Wind in the Near-Term

Perhaps more eye-opening are the trend lines indicated by FERC and EIA data for the next three years -. 

FERC now reports that there may be as much as 200,471-MW of new solar capacity in the three-year pipeline (i.e., through October 2025) with 72,433-MW classified as “high probability” additions and no offsetting “retirements.” Two years ago, FERC’s three-year projection was 128,001-MW of new solar with 32,784-MW being “high probability.” And just a year ago, FERC reported 170,941-MW of solar (including 52,692-MW of “high probability solar”) in the three-year pipeline. 

FERC’s latest assessment of “high probability” additions alone would almost double utility-scale solar’s current installed capacity of 77,750-MW while successful completion of all projects in the pipeline would nearly quadruple it.  

In addition, new wind capacity by October 2025 could total 67,362-MW with 17,312-MW being “high probability” and only 140-MW of retirements expected. Thus, installed wind capacity (now 142,160-MW)  could grow by at least 12.2% and possibly by much more.    

 “High probability” generation capacity additions for utility-scale solar and wind combined, minus anticipated retirements, reflect a projected net increase of 89,745-MW over the next three years, or almost 2,500-MW per month. That figure does not include new distributed, small-scale solar capacity or net additions by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass.  

For perspective, the forthcoming capacity additions by solar and wind each month will be greater than the combined capacity of the two new reactors that have been under construction for over a decade at the Vogtle nuclear plant site near Waynesboro, Georgia. 

FERC’s forecast for solar, wind, and other renewables is generally consistent with that provided in EIA’s latest “Short-Term Energy Outlook”.  

EIA anticipates installed solar capacity by the end of 2022 to be 24.6% above that reported for 2021 and to grow by another 40.8% or 31,002-MW in the coming year, reaching 106,994-MW by the end of 2023.Wind capacity would also expand by 12.1% over the two-year period and reach 148,740-MW by December 2023. EIA further estimates that wind and solar combined will account for 14% of U.S. generation in 2022, and forecasts that share to grow to 16% in 2023. 

Natural Gas Capacity May Have Peaked While Coal, Oil and Nuclear Continue to Decline:  

Moreover, FERC’s three-year forecast suggests that installed natural gas capacity will begin to decline by fall 2025 while that of solar and wind continues to rapidly expand. 

Arguably more startling is FERC’s forecast for natural gas capacity over the next three years. FERC anticipates 107 units of “high probability” additions by natural gas by October 2025 totaling 17,062-MW of capacity. However, there will also be “retirements” of 130 units totaling 17,489-MW. If that materializes, installed natural gas capacity would actually decline.  

Similarly, EIA expects the share of U.S. electric power generation supplied by natural gas will fall from 39% this year to 37% in 2023 as more renewable generating capacity comes online.  

Combined, this very possibly indicates that natural gas generating capacity has now peaked.  

In addition, FERC reports no new coal generating capacity in the three-year pipeline but 19,106-MW of expected retirements. EIA offers a very similar forecast and anticipates almost 12-GW of coal-fired capacity retirements in 2022 and another 9-GW in 2023. Those plant closures represent about 10% of the existing U.S. coal-fired generating fleet.  

Oil generating capacity is projected to fall by 1,689-MW as well. 

FERC expects new nuclear additions to total 2,200-MW (i.e., the two new reactors being constructed at the Vogtle nuclear plant site). However, FERC also projects that nuclear retirements over the next three years will total 2,323-MW. 

As a Consequence … 

If just FERC’s latest “high probability” projections materialize, by October 2025, renewable energy sources would grow from a bit over a quarter today to nearly a third (32.43%) of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity. Utility-scale solar and wind generating capacity would expand from 17.47% of domestic capacity today to almost one-quarter (23.31%) by October 2025 with solar’s and wind’s shares almost equal – 11.31% and 12.00% respectively.  

Meanwhile, natural gas’ share would contract from 44.21% today to 41.89% by October 2025. If current trends continue or – as seems likely – accelerate, renewable energy generating capacity should overtake that of natural gas before 2030. Moreover, coal’s share of the nation’s generating capacity would fall from 17.43% to 15.09% by October 2025 while that of nuclear power would decline from 8.14% to 7.71% and that of oil would drop from 3.01% to 2.73%. 

# # # # # # # # #  

Sources:  

FERC’s 6-page “Energy Infrastructure Update for October 2022” was released on December 1, 2022 and can be found at: https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-october-2022. For the information cited in this update, see the tables entitled “New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion),” “Total Available Installed Generating Capacity,” and “Generation Capacity Additions and Retirements.” FERC notes that its data are derived from Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group LLC. and adds the caveat that “the data may be subject to update.”   

EIA’s latest “Short-Term Energy Outlook” report was released on December 6, 2022 and can be found at: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo 

For the information cited in this update, see: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/elec_coal_renew.php 

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Geothermal Status ReportDecember 4, 2022
U.S. NET ELECTRICAL GENERATION

(in gigawatt-hours GWh) 

January 1 – September 30, 2022 (YTD): 
12,627 – Total (0.38% of total net electrical generation by all sources, inc. small-scale PV) 
Source: “Electric Power Monthly,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (November 23, 2022)  
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/current_month/november2022.pdf [see Table ES1.B] 

January 1 – December 31, 2021: 
15,975 – Total (0.38% of total net electrical generation by all sources, inc. small-scale PV) 
Source: “Electric Power Annual,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (November 7, 2022)
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_01_01.html

January 1 – December 31, 2020: 
15,890 – Total (0.39% of total net electrical generation by all sources, inc. small-scale PV) 
Source: “Electric Power Annual,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (November 7, 2022)
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_01_01.html

January 1 – December 31, 2015: 
16,767 – Total (0.41% of total net electrical generation by all sources, inc. small-scale PV) 
Source: “Electric Power Monthly,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (February 25, 2016)
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly [see Table ES1.B] 

January 1 – December 31, 2010: 
15,666 – Total (0.38% of total net electrical generation by all sources, inc. small-scale PV)
Source: “Electric Power Monthly,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (March xx, 2011)
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly [see Table ES1.B] 

INSTALLED GENERATING CAPACITY

(Data are provided for only utility-scale installations – i.e., >1-MW) 

September 30, 2022: 
4.08 GW (0.32% share of total available installed generating capacity) 
Source: “Energy Infrastructure Update,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (November 7, 2022)
https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-september-2022

December 31, 2021: 
3.94 GW (0.32% share of total available installed generating capacity) 
Source: “Energy Infrastructure Update,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (March 8, 2022)
https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-december-2021 

December 31, 2020: 
3.90 GW (0.32% share of total available installed generating capacity) 
Source: “Energy Infrastructure Update,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (February 8, 2021)  
https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-december-2020

December 31, 2015: 
3.91 GW (0.33% share of total available installed generating capacity) 
Source: “Energy Infrastructure Update,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (February 2, 2016) 
https://www.ferc.gov/media/2699

December 31, 2010: 
3.30 GW (0.29% share of total available installed generating capacity) 
Source: “Energy Infrastructure Update,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (February 4, 2011) 
https://www.ferc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/12-10-energy-infrastructure.pdf

AVERAGE ANNUAL CAPACITY FACTORS

(Capacity factors are a comparison of net generation with available capacity. They are available only for utility-scale installations.) 

Source: “Electric Power Monthly,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (November 23, 2022) https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_6_07_b 

January 1 – September 30, 2022: (YTD – average of preliminary monthly data) 
73.1%  

2021: (preliminary data) 
69.8%  

2020: 
69.1%  

2015: 
71.9%  

2012: (2010 data not available) 
68.3%  

NEAR-TERM GROWTH FORECASTS

U.S. Energy Information Administration: U.S. electricity generation by geothermal is forecast to increase by 2.18% between 2021 and 2022. In 2023, U.S. electricity generation by geothermal is forecast to increase by 0.97% over the 2022 level.  
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Short-Term Energy Outlook” (November 8, 2022)  
https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/data/browser/#/?v=25

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Additions of utility-scale geothermal between October 2022 and September 2025 could total 155-MW with 37-MW deemed “high probability additions”. However, retirements are projected to total 35-MW. Net high-probability additions would bring total utility-scale geothermal generating capacity to 4.082-MW by September 2025; geothermal would then account for ~0.31% of total U.S. generating capacity. 
Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Energy Infrastructure Update for September 2022,” (November 7, 2022) 
https://cms.ferc.gov/media/energy-infrastructure-update-september-2022 

EGS COST

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Enhanced Geothermal Shot initiative aims to lower the cost of EGS projects 90% to $45 per MWh by 2035. It said that capturing even a “small fraction” of the U.S.’s geothermal resources could power more than 40 million homes.  
Source: U.S. Department of Energy (September 8, 2022)  
https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-launches-new-energy-earthshot-slash-cost-geothermal-power

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In other news:

PA DEP Posted 50 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In The Dec. 10 PA Bulletin

Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard – Dec. 3 to 9, 2022
So far this year– as of December 2— DEP issued 4,804 formal notices of violation to conventional operators and 1,066 to unconventional shale gas operators. The most significant violations were–
Mitch Well Energy Inc.: Failure to plug a well upon abandoning it – Erie County
Dorso LP: Failed to notify DEP, Coal Operator prior to plugging well – Allegheny County
Bull Run Resources LLC: Discharging waste, did not obtain waste permit – McKean County 
Nucomer Energy LLC: Failed to submit well integrity reports on 3 wells – Mercer County
The annual integrity report is critical because it helps ensure the operator is taking the steps needed to prevent natural gas, oil or contaminated water leaks from oil and gas wells.
Report Violations
To report oil and gas violations or any environmental emergency or complaint, visit DEP’s Environmental Complaint webpage.

Green Rock Energy Partners Acquires Pennsylvania Renewable Natural Gas Production Facility
December 8, 2022 – NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Green Rock Energy Partners LLC (“Green Rock” or “the Firm”), a sustainable infrastructure focused private equity firm, acquired PSA South Hills Landfill Gas Venture LLC (“South Hills”), a renewable natural gas (“RNG”) production facility. The purchase closed in Q4 2022.

Keystone pipeline shut after 14,000-barrel (588,000 gallon) oil spill in Kansas
December 8, 2022 – (Reuters) – Canada’s TC Energy shut its Keystone pipeline in the United States after more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into a creek in Kansas, making it one of the largest crude spills in the United States in nearly a decade. The 622,000 barrel-per-day Keystone line is a critical artery shipping heavy Canadian crude from Alberta to refiners in the U.S. Midwest and the Gulf Coast. It is unclear how long the closure will last.

DCED’s Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Advisory Council Meets Dec. 15 On Radioactive Drilling Waste; Road Dumping Wastewater; Limits On Methane Emissions; More
The agenda for the December 15 meeting of DCED’s PA Grade Crude [Oil] Advisory Council includes a variety of current issues of interest to the conventional oil and gas industry and the affected public.

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