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Energy

Natural Gas Drives New Electricity Capacity

by Jeff Johnson
April 14, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 15

Last year, slightly more than half of new electricity generating capacity came from natural gas power plants, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Altogether, the total electricity capacity added in 2013 was 13,500 MW, half of the amount added in 2012. The report, released on April 8, says the second-largest contributor to new capacity was solar energy installations. With nearly 22% of the new capacity, solar energy saw a big jump from the 6% of new additions it represented in 2012. Almost three-quarters of the solar installations were photovoltaic solar cells, EIA says. The rest were large-scale solar thermal installations in California and Arizona. Added solar capacity, however, could be nearly 50% higher than the report states because, EIA notes, its study does not include small rooftop solar installations. Coal held the third spot in added electricity capacity, with slightly more than 11% of the total in 2013. The capacity increase came from the construction of two new plants, one a conventional plant and the other a coal gasification facility. Overall, almost half of the new energy capacity came from California-based installations, EIA says.

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