Warmer summer, 25 GW of new capacity expected in US
May 22 (Renewables Now) – The US is forecast to experience higher than average temperatures this summer, but net demand for electricity is to remain relatively flat year-on-year due to the higher implementation of demand response and growth in behind-the-meter distributed energy resources.
This will be a record summer for natural gas demand for power generation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in its Summer 2018 Energy Market and Reliability Assessment, citing a forecast by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts an above-normal chance for higher than average temperatures for the West, South, and East for June, July, and August. The expectation for higher than average temperatures is greatest in New England and along a band running from West Texas through the Pacific Northwest.
More than 25 GW of new power capacity is to enter commercial service through the end of the summer period, mainly from natural gas-fired plants and wind and solar farms. At the same time, 10.8 GW of coal-fired capacity and 2.3 GW of natural gas-fired capacity have retired since May 2017.
REGIONS AND CHALLENGES
North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Regional Entities anticipate that power resources will be enough to meet the reference margin levels in most regions this summer. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), however, anticipates that its reserve margin will be just 10.92%, as compared to a reference margin level of 13.75%, due to the retirement of coal and gas-fired capacity and the delay in construction of 2.1 GW of new plants. Still, ERCOT expects to have sufficient operational tools to manage tight reserves and maintain system reliability.
Total of 961 MW of wind and 387 MW of solar power, and 355 MW of gas capacity, are expected to come online in ERCOT by September 30.
In Southern California, natural gas-fired generation may not be able to fully offset lower-than-average hydropower generation as a result of reduced gas storage capacity and local pipeline outages in the region.