EIA expects an additional 15.4 GW of utility-scale solar capacity will be connected to the grid in 2021

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects that electricity generation from renewable energy sources will rise from 20 percent in 2020 to 21 percent in 2021 and 23 percent in 2022. During the next two years, electricity generation capacity from renewables will continue growing. Although EIA expects both wind and solar capacity growth, solar capacity grows at a faster rate in the forecast and installed GW will exceed wind growth for the first time in 2021.
Developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 GW of new electricity generating capacity to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar will account for the largest share of new capacity at 39 percent, followed by wind at 31 percent.
Addition utility-scale solar capacity is to set a new record by adding 15.4 GW of capacity to the grid in 2021. This new capacity will surpass last year’s nearly 12 GW increase, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and scheduled additions for the last two months of 2020 (5.7 GW). More than half of the new utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity is planned for four states: Texas (28 percent), Nevada (9 percent), California (9 percent), and North Carolina (7 percent). EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts an additional 4.1 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2021.
EIA expects the capacity of utility-scale battery storage to more than quadruple; 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions are slated to come online by the end of 2021. The rapid growth of renewables, such as wind and solar, is a major driver in the expansion of battery capacity because battery storage systems are increasingly paired with renewables. The world's largest solar-powered battery (409 MW) is under construction at Manatee Solar Energy Center in Florida; the battery is scheduled to be operational by late 2021.
About 3 percent of the new capacity in 2021 will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia. On the other hand, 9.1 GW of electric generating capacity is scheduled to retire in 2021. Nuclear generating capacity will account for the largest share of total capacity retirements (56 percent), followed by coal (30 percent).
Total consumption of electricity in the United States will increase by 1.5 percent in 2021 after falling by 4.0 percent in 2020. The pandemic significantly affected electricity consumption in the commercial and industrial sectors in 2020. EIA estimates retail sales of electricity to the two sectors fell by 6.0 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. EIA expects commercial electricity use in 2021 to rise by 0.9 percent and industrial electricity use to rise by 1.2 percent. According to the agency, »social distancing guidelines have caused people to spend more time at home, resulting in increased residential electricity use.« In 2020, retail sales of electricity to the residential sector were 1.3 percent higher despite a mild winter earlier in the year. EIA expects residential electricity use will rise by 2.4 percent in 2021 as colder winter weather leads to more heating demand. Total forecast electricity consumption in 2022 will rise by 1.7 percent.
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