February 8, 2013 – Vol.17 No. 47
SNL Energy Report: Wind Led Completed Power Projects by Capacity in 2012.
by Rizwan Qureshi, SNL Financial
There were 430 power projects completed in 2012, totaling 29,335 MW, according to SNL Energy data. Solar topped the list for the number of projects completed during the year, with 175, and wind came in second, with 136 projects.
By capacity, wind led the list, with nearly 13,000 MW, or 44 percent of the total capacity completed.
Total capacity added in 2012 was significantly greater than the 20,436 MW added in 2011, according to SNL Energy data. The total capacity completed in 2012 represented nearly $73 billion in estimated construction costs, based on details available on specific projects.
By fuel type
According to SNL Energy data, 12,953 MW of wind capacity was completed in 2012, blowing away previous records and, for the first time, accounting for more generation capacity than any other technology. This gush of wind capacity came as the industry raced to complete projects ahead of the scheduled expiration of the production tax credit at the end of 2012, which has since been extended.
Natural gas capacity additions surged to their highest level in several years, totaling 9,979 MW, mostly in combined-cycle facilities. They have become more popular because of low gas prices and continuing retirements of coal-fired capacity. U.S. EPA regulations on emissions from coal-fired units provide further incentive for the increased use of natural gas in power generation.
Several coal-fired units were completed in 2012, adding 3,762 MW of capacity, almost all in the SERC Reliability Corp. region. Some developers believe that the decision to build a coal power plant remains a wise choice given long-term forecasts for competitive pricing compared to natural gas and nuclear generation, as well as the benefit of stable fuel prices compared to natural gas price volatility.
Although solar topped the list in terms of number of projects completed during the year, it accounted for only 1,557 MW of completed capacity. Nearly all of the solar capacity built was in the WECC region.
The SERC Reliability Corp., covering much of the Southeast and portions of the Midwest, had the largest amount of capacity completed in 2012, with 9,271 MW, composed mainly of coal and gas projects. SERC alone contributed about 32 percent of the total completed capacity during the year. Nine of the 10 largest projects by capacity completed in 2012 were in SERC.
The Western Electricity Coordinating Council, with 8,147 MW, came second in terms of completed capacity during the year. More than 53 percent, or 4,340 MW, of capacity completed in WECC came from wind projects, followed by gas, with 2,024 MW, and solar, with 1,189 MW.
Wind capacity added in WECC totaled more than one-third of all wind capacity additions in 2012.
ReliabilityFirst Corp., with 4,066 MW, was third in terms completed projects during the year. As with WECC, wind projects accounted for more than 53 percent of the completed capacity in the region, with gas coming in second.
Largest completed projects
Six of the 10 largest power projects completed during 2012 were natural gas projects, while the other four were coal.
The 962-MW John Sevier combined-cycle project, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, was the largest project by capacity completed during the year. According to the TVA, the project was completed a month ahead of schedule, at the end of April, and $30 million under budget. The plant is next to the John Sevier coal-fired plant, where two of the four units were retired and two units were idled at the end of 2012.
The second-largest project completed during the year was the 920-MW, gas-fired H.F. Lee plant in Wayne County, N.C. Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary Carolina Power & Light Co. d/b/a Progress Energy Carolinas retired three older coal units and four combustion turbines at the site.
The largest coal project completed in 2012 was the 825-MW unit at the Cliffside plant in North Carolina, owned by Duke Energy. Built at a cost of $2.15 billion, the new unit brought the total operating capacity of the Cliffside plant to 1,387 MW. The steam turbine unit is equipped with selective catalytic reduction, baghouse and spray emission controls.
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