According to S&P Global Market intelligence (S&P) data, 12,946 MW of power generating capacity in the US was retired in 2020, down from the 19,716 MW retired in 2019. Broken down by fuel type, shuttered coal plants made up the bulk of the retirements at 56.9%, followed by gas at 19.2%, and nuclear at 12.7%. As in 2019, two nuclear plants were retired in 2020. By power region, PJM saw the most retirements, followed by New York ISO (NYISO). Looking ahead, the EIA projects that nuclear and coal will account for the vast majority of the planned 9,100 MW of generating capacity retirements in 2021. The retirements of five reactors at three nuclear plans will set a record for the most annual nuclear capacity retirements ever. Coal retirements are expected to slow following substantial retirements over the past five years.
While fossil and nuclear generation accounted for the majority of the retirements, new wind and solar generation helped the US add 24,870 MW of new generating capacity in 2020. Of the new generation capacity, wind accounted for 43.4%, solar 27.6%, while gas an others accounted for the rest, according to S&P data. The Midcontinent ISO (MISO) saw the largest amount of 2020 capacity additions, totaling 5,119 MW, followed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) with 5,004 MW added. Wind and solar will continue to lead the way in US generation capacity additions in 2021, making up 70% of the 39,700 MW the EIA expects to be added. 2021 will also see the first new nuclear reactor unit to be built in the United States in more than 30 years come online in November, as part of an expansion project at Georgia’s Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant.