Renewable energy market conditions and outlook
This post written by Paige Lampman (Lampman.firstname.lastname@example.org)
US: Renewable Energy Capacity
Renewables have been gaining speed since 2010, and since 2015, the costs have fallen to levels competitive with traditional energy sources.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the share of renewable energy generation in the US to increase from 20% in 2021 to 22% in 2022 and increase to 42% by 2050. Renewables are on track collectively to surpass natural gas to be the predominant source of generation in the United States by 2030, and solar to pass wind in 2040 (March, EIA STEO).
The United States has more than 1.2 million MW (megawatt) of generation capacity, one megawatt is equal to one million watts. This consists of natural gas (43.2%), coal (19.5%), wind (10.53%), hydro (9.21%) and solar (4.28%). The fast-growing electricity sources in the US are now wind and solar power. The effects of their implementation are additional jobs and progression in global sustainability (Energy Capacity, EIA).
Capacity wise, there is projected to add 46.1 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale renewable electric generating capacity added to the grid in 2022, a record setting year for renewable development. Consisting of 21.5 GW from solar, 9.6 GW from natural gas and 7.6 GW from wind. One gigawatt (GW) is equivalent to 1,000 megawatts, or one billion watts (January, TIE EIA).
Now, renewables may have even of a larger window of opportunity due to the Interconnections Seam Study which has been revived by the Biden Administration. This initiative proposes to “stitch” the east-west seam that falls down the middle of the country to unite the eastern and western utility grids. This would increase the transmission capacity and allow for more efficient and flexible exchange of power throughout the country. This modification would result in 28-53 GW of improved interregional generation enablement for projects near the seam (NREL, 2021).
Wind Vision Report states that wind can be a viable source of renewable electricity in all 50 states by 2050, as it supports a strong domestic supply chain. It also has the potential to support an additional 600,000 jobs in manufacturing, maintenance, and installation services.
In 2021 17.1 GW was added by wind capacity, and there are estimates that it will grow additionally by 7.6 GW in 2022 and 4.3 GW in 2023. These additions are in Texas (51%) and Oklahoma at the 999 MW Traverse Wind Energy Center, which is the largest wind project expected to come online in 2022 and scheduled to begin operations in April (U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, 2015).
Utility-scale solar capacity is expected to rise even more than the 15.5 GW it did in 2021, but rather projected to increase by 21.8 GW in 2022. Most of these additions are in Texas (6.1 GW) and California (4.0 GW). Small-scale solar capacity, from systems less than 1 MW which usually reside on residential housing are expected to grow by 4.4 GW in 2022 (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2022).
Battery storage capacity is projected to grow by 5.1 GW, or 84% in 2022. This is stimulated by the declining costs of battery storage, additions from renewable generation, and adding value through regional transmission organization markets (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2022).
Ohio: Renewable Energy Overview
Ohio in the past was mainly powered by coal, but over the last decade, we have increasingly relied on natural gas as fracking and technology have increased supply and driven prices down. Due to policy differences and environmental conditions Ohio has developed a relatively modest amount of renewable energy in recent years, today accounting for only 3% of electricity generated, but this is changing. This makes Ohio have the third smallest share of renewable generated electricity in the country.
Ohio has less capacity for wind than solar, but it receives moderate winds onshore in the western part of Ohio, as well as offshore wind capability from Lake Erie. By early 2021 Ohio had more than 850 MW of installed wind generating capacity. The largest wind farm in Ohio, the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm, was constructed in 2012. There has been propositions about an offshore 21 MW wind farm 8 miles into Lake Erie called the Icebreaker Wind Farm but has recently faced backlash due to opposition from environmental groups (OPSB).
Currently, laws in Ohio require a minimum setback rule of 1,125 feet from the tip of a wind turbine’s nearest horizontal blade to the nearest property line. House Bill 302 would revert this setback to pre-2014 levels, measuring from the nearest house rather than property line. This bill, if passed, will increase wind development in the state (The Ohio Legislature, 2022). Set back requirements in place now seem to have slowed development of wind in Ohio.
Ohio’s solar capacity is on track to pass coal by 2028, and it has the 3rd highest number of MW in the pipeline in America behind Texas and California. Large companies like Amazon have been investing in solar in Ohio, which is now ranked by Energy Consultancy Wood Mackenzie as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next 5 years. Made in America solar technology is joining in on similar investments as well as cleantech jobs in Ohio. Since the 200 MW Hillcrest Solar Array was commissioned in only May of 2021 (EnPowered), Ohio now accounts for 8% of American planned solar projects.
Senate Bill 52 was recently signed that gives counties control over large scale solar and wind projects, allowing them to prohibit projects that have already been reviewed and designate areas that are off-limits to development (S.B. 52). Some reasons why companies are seeking to implement solar in Ohio are
1) the large amount of cleared, relatively flat, farmland;
2) the relatively open market for land transactions, particularly in un-zoned rural locations.
3) access to the PJM grid
4) the strong business community and growing demand by business consumers
Most of the investment comes in the form of Power Purchasing Agreements, as many corporations have sustainability goals that they cannot attain on their own (Solar Coming to Ohio). Other approaches such as community solar have not achieved as much buy-in in Ohio due largely to the relatively restrictive net-metering rules.
Planned Renewable Energy Capacity
The following is a summarized chart of planned solar and wind projects in Ohio at various stages of their development (OPSB Solar Facilities, OPSB Wind Facilities).
|Solar MW||Wind MW||Wind Turbines|