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Today in Energy

Mar 4, 2021

Texas and Florida had large small-scale solar capacity increases in 2020

top 8 small-scale solar capacity states as of December 2020
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Electric Power Industry Report

As of December 2020, the states with the most small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity were California (10.6 gigawatts (GW)), New Jersey (1.9 GW), and Massachusetts (1.8 GW). Of the 4.5 GW of small-scale solar capacity added in the United States in 2020, California accounted for 31%, the largest share by far. Although Texas and Florida have less total small-scale solar capacity than states such as California or New Jersey, capacity has grown rapidly in these states in recent years. In 2020, Texas added 422 megawatts (MW) of small-scale solar, and Florida added 282 MW. State incentives, strong solar resources, and policy changes are largely driving these gains.

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Mar 3, 2021

The United States installed more wind turbine capacity in 2020 than in any other year

U.S. wind turbine electricity generating capacity additions
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory

In both 2019 and 2020, project developers in the United States installed more wind power capacity than any other generating technology. According to data recently published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, annual wind turbine capacity additions in the United States set a record in 2020, totaling 14.2 gigawatts (GW) and surpassing the previous record of 13.2 GW added in 2012. After this record year for wind turbine capacity additions, total wind turbine capacity in the United States is now 118 GW.

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Mar 2, 2021

Annual U.S. natural gas production decreased by 1% in 2020

U.S. annual natural gas production
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production Report, Natural Gas Monthly
Note: Natural gas production is measured as gross withdrawals.

U.S. natural gas production—as measured by gross withdrawals—averaged 111.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2020, down 0.9 billion Bcf/d from 2019 as result of a decline in drilling activity related to low natural gas and oil prices in 2020.

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Mar 1, 2021

Cold weather led to refinery shutdowns in U.S. Gulf Coast region

weekly U.S. gulf coast gross inputs to refineries
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Petroleum Status Report

The cold snap that affected much of the central part of the country in mid-February disrupted energy systems, particularly in and around Texas. In the U.S. Gulf Coast, where the petroleum infrastructure has rarely operated in sub-zero temperatures, several refineries fully or partially shut down, leading to the largest reduction in Gulf Coast refinery operations in several years.

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Feb 26, 2021

Cold weather results in near-record withdrawals from underground natural gas storage

range of weekly natural gas storage net changes
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

Significant demand for natural gas in mid-February led to the second-largest reported withdrawal of natural gas from storage in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR). Weekly stocks fell by 338 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the week ending February 19, 2021, nearly three times the average withdrawal for mid-February. A record amount of natural gas, 156 Bcf, was withdrawn during that week in the South Central region, which includes Texas.

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Feb 25, 2021

Texas natural gas production fell by almost half during recent cold snap

Texas dry natural gas production
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly, and daily estimates from IHS Markit

During the cold snap that affected much of the central part of the country, U.S. dry natural gas production fell to as low as 69.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) on February 17, a decline of 21%, or down nearly 18.9 Bcf/d from the week ending February 13. Natural gas production in Texas fell almost 45% from 21.3 Bcf/d during the week ending February 13 to a daily low of 11.8 Bcf/d on Wednesday, February 17, according to estimates from IHS Markit. Temperatures in Texas averaged nearly 30 degrees Fahrenheit lower than normal during the week of February 14.

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Feb 24, 2021

Ethanol and biomass-based diesel RIN prices approaching all-time highs

daily spot prices of ethanol (d6) and biomass-based diesel
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Oil Price Information Service (OPIS)

The prices of renewable identification number (RIN) credits—the compliance mechanisms used for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—have been steadily rising in recent months and are approaching their highest nominal levels in the history of the program.

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Feb 23, 2021

EIA publishes a ratio of revenues-to-costs to explain power plant additions

value-cost ratio and capacity additions for new natural gas combined-cycle plants
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Levelized Costs of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2021
Note: Region average is a simple average of regional values across the 25 U.S. supply regions of the Electricity Market Module.

A supplemental report to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (AEO2021) describes how EIA uses a ratio of a power plant’s revenue to its cost (or value-cost ratio) as a simple metric to explain the economic competitiveness and, in turn, the types of power plants most likely to be built in EIA’s long-term model for the U.S. energy sector.

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Feb 22, 2021

Nuclear, pumped storage, and coal power plants are more likely to have multiple owners

U.S. electric generating capacity and ownership type
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects data on whether an electric generator is owned by one company or jointly owned by several companies, and for those jointly owned, each owner’s share of ownership. In 2019, about 14% of the 1,099 gigawatts (GW) of total operational U.S. electricity generating capacity was jointly owned. Nuclear capacity had the highest percentage of joint ownership at 37%, followed by pumped-storage hydropower at 34% and coal at 29%. These types of power plants tend to be large-scale facilities that are expensive to build, and the technologies come with higher regulatory risks, making joint ownership more attractive by reducing plant ownership risks for each owner.

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Feb 19, 2021

Extreme winter weather is disrupting energy supply and demand, particularly in Texas

hourly electricity demand, net generation, and total interchange
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hourly Electric Grid Monitor (ERCOT demand, net generation, and interchange)

Last weekend, a major winter weather system characterized by extreme cold spread across much of the central United States, disrupting energy systems and causing serious health and safety issues, particularly in Texas. At the same time that the cold weather increased energy demand, it also affected energy supply, causing intense and widespread energy market disruptions. Notably, electricity deliveries have been disrupted in the parts of Texas served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as a result of various issues related to plant operations.

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