Solar and wind power will account for 70 percent of new electricity generation capacity across the country in 2021. This is according to findings from the Energy Information Administration. Renewable sources will cover more than two-thirds of the 39.7 gigawatts of new capacity. This provides further confirmation of how the electric grid is changing.
Analysts project utility-scale solar will add 15.4 gigawatts to the grid this year. This would be a new record following the 12 gigawatts added in 2020. An additional 4.1 gigawatts of small-scale solar facilities will also come online. More than half of the utility-scale solar power will come from four states. These states are Texas (28 percent), California (9 percent), Nevada (9 percent), and North Carolina (7 percent).
Wind power will account for 12.2 gigawatts of generating capacity. More than half of this growth will come from Texas and Oklahoma. This marks a decline from the 21 gigawatts of wind power connected to the grid in 2020. Further, the 12-megawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project should begin operations this year.
The dramatic expansion of solar and wind power also benefits battery storage facilities. Batteries are increasingly paired with wind or solar power sites to improve their reliability. The EIA estimates that total battery storage capacity on the U.S. grid will increase four-fold during 2021 as batteries with 4.3 gigawatts of capacity come online.
By contrast, energy sources unable to compete with cheap natural gas and renewables are being squeezed out. More than 5 gigawatts of nuclear power generation will close in 2021. This equals 56 percent of proposed power plant retirements. 30 percent of retirements are coal-fired plants.