USA Energy (Updated June 9, 2021)

U.S. electric power sector electricity generation and co2 emissions by source

Over the past 15 years, the U.S. electricity generation mix has shifted away from coal and toward natural gas and renewables, resulting in lower CO2 emissions from electricity generation. In 2019, the U.S. electric power sector produced 1,724 million metric tons (MMmt) of CO2, 32% less than the 2,544 MMmt produced in 2005.

Lower CO2 emissions have largely been a result of a shift from coal to natural gas in the electricity generation mix. In 2005, coal made up 50% of U.S. electricity generation; that share declined to 23% in 2019. Conversely, natural gas increased from 19% of total generation in 2005 to 38% in 2019.

For the next few years, this trend may be changing. In the recent releases of our Short-Term Energy Outlook, we forecast that higher natural gas prices will lead to less natural gas-fired generation and more coal-fired generation in 2021. However, in 2022, we expect both coal and natural gas to lose a portion of their shares to renewables.

When generating electricity, coal emits significantly more CO2 than natural gas. In 2019, coal-fired generation produced 2,257 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity. Natural gas-fired generation produced less than half that amount at 976 pounds of CO2/MWh.

CO2 emissions associated with generating electricity from coal and natural gas differ because of differences in the fuels themselves—coal has more carbon content per unit of energy. In addition, coal-fired plants and natural gas-fired plants differ in how efficiently they convert their respective fuels to electricity. The amount of CO2 produced when a fuel is burned depends on a fuel’s carbon content. Coal produces more CO2 per unit of energy than natural gas does when burned. Coal consumption for electricity generation produces 209 pounds of CO2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), compared with 117 pounds of CO2/MMBtu for natural gas.

In the Unite

As the rate of coal-to-gas switching reverses in the short-term, the trend of declining power sector CO2 emissions may change. Annual changes in power sector CO2 emissions from natural gas and coal depend first on changes in the shares of those fuels in electricity generation and second on improvements in natural gas-fired generation efficiency.

Data Center Market Projections

The U.S. will need 4,000 more data centers at approximately 200K sqft (800 Million sqft), 25 MW facilities each (100,000 MW) by 2020 because the U.S., as well as countries around the globe, are creating 600 new zettabytes of data each year, which is about 200% more traffic than current data centers can handle.

Data center expansion by cloud companies, such as AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, and Oracle, is shifting to a rapid growth mode. We are aware of approximately 50 to 70 projects in which cloud companies are building, or planning to build, single data centers or large campuses to accommodate five to 15 data center buildings at 100,000 sq ft to 300,000 sq ft each. These new Class “A” Tier 3 data centers will trade between 4.5% to 5% Cap Rate because of demand from new investors and the credit of the tenant.

Two other key areas of concern, Data Centers require two sources of Power so this problem is magnified 2x. The key is to reduce the consumption of the grid. What does this mean…

New Power Plants Required

First we need to also understand that while there is a demand for new power plants that the old power plants have a life cycle. The operating span of a coal fired power plant can be unlimited since any degraded or failed component can be replaced with a new one. Some of the oldest U.S. coal plants have operated since 1921. The decision on whether to make a refurbishment, or to build a new plant, is merely a question of relative economics and investment risk.

Data Center demand by 2020 there needs to be an increase of 4,000 more data centers will require 100,000 MW of power under the current IT Industry standards.

How many MW does a power plant produce? The amount of electricity that a power plant generates over a period of time depends on the amount of time it operates at a specific capacity. For example, if the R. E. Ginna reactor operates at 582 MW capacity for 24 hours, it will generate 13,968 megawatt hours (MWh).  

What does 100 MW power plant mean (must build 1,000 Power Plants)? KiloWatt-Hour means, 1000 watts of power utilised (or produced) for one hour. … Now, a 1000 MegaWatt power plant, running at 100% capacity factor generates 1,000,000,000 watts of power i.e. 1000 x 1,000,000 (Mega is one million i.e. Ten to the power of six) per hour.   

What does 500 MW power plant mean(must build 200 Power Plants)? KiloWatt-Hour means, 1000 watts of power utilised (or produced) for one hour. … Now, a 1000 MegaWatt power plant, running at 100% capacity factor generates 1,000,000,000 watts of power i.e. 1000 x 1,000,000 (Mega is one million i.e.  

Cost to build a Power Plant

The best fossil fuel plants are only about 50% efficient. The USA, hydropower is produced for an average of 0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh). This is about 50% the cost of nuclear, 40% the cost of fossil fuel, and 25% the cost of using natural gas.

U.S. utility-scale electricity generating capacity

As of January 2021, the United States had almost 200 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity that could functionally switch fuels, or about 18% of the total 1,116 GW of utility-scale electric generating capacity. About two-thirds, or 745 GW, of all utility-scale generating capacity involved technologies that could potentially use multiple energy sources, such as combustion turbines and steam turbines, as opposed to 371 GW of capacity that are single-source technologies such as wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear reactors.

Coal. Once produced about 50% of the United States electricity, with 1493 coal fueled power plants in the United States in 2006. However, the United States has had a major shift and now ranks 3rd globally with a dramatic reduction. In 2022, there are only 240 coal fueled power plants remaining in the United States. The estimated costs of building new coal plants have reached $3,500 per kW, without financing costs, and are still expected to increase further. This would mean a cost of well over $2 billion for a new 600 MW coal plant when financing costs are included. Coal is one of the dirtiest burning fuels currently in use. In 2022 globally the leader is China with 1,110 coal fueled power plants, China accounts for over 50 percent of total global coal electricity generation. Then India with 285, Japan has 91 coal fueled power plants. Power plants running on coal are one of the leading contributors of pollution which causes smog as well as acid rain.

Renewable alternative fuel consumption  

U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector, 2021

BioMass. In the United States, direct combustion is the most common method of producing heat from biomass. Small-scale biomass electric plants have installed costs of$3,000 to $4,000 per kW, and a levelized cost of energy of $0.8 to $0.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh). You could do it in five years. The power station on the ground is almost the same as any fuel-burning power station. The difficulty is drilling several kilometres underground to the hot rocks below,and then drilling a similar shaft a little distance away for water to go down and then up again.  

Hydroelectric. How long does it take to build a hydroelectric power station? It takes 4 to 7 years to build a hydroelectric power station, from the time the project initiator remits the Project Notification form to the government until the facility is up and running.  Hydroelectric plants are more reliable and it is much more efficient. With dams, they have a reservoir, so if there is a drought, there is still a flow of electricity.  

Natural Gas. Time It takes To Build Peaking Power Plant it typically takes one to three years to build a gas turbine power plant depending on the size and complexity.  

Nuclear. Between 2002 and 2008, for example, cost estimates for new nuclear plant construction rose from between $2 billion and $4 billion per unit to $9 billion per unit, according to a 2009 UCS report, while experience with new construction in Europe has seen costs continue to soar.   Modern nuclear power plants are planned for construction in five years or less (42 months for CANDU ACR-1000, 60 months from order to operation for an AP1000, 48 months from first concrete to operation for an EPR and 45 months for an ESBWR) as opposed to over a decade for some previous plants.  

Solar. At the time of this writing, the installed cost of solar panels was between $7-$9 per watt: A 5 kW system would cost around $25,000-$35,000. Many utility companies offer incentives, and some subsidize as much as 50% of system costs. But Solar only works during the daytime when the clouds are not blocking the sunlight. Solar also only produces a very small amount of power but zero emissions. Most panels provide less energy over their twenty year life, then it takes to create them. A factor to consider is the logistics and cause and effect to build the solar panels – this takes energy. So one needs to understand the process.  

Wind. The costs for a utility scale wind turbine range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed.

Hydrogen in Electricity’s Future. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) describes hydrogen as an “energy carrier,” as it allows the transport of energy that can be later converted to other forms of useful energy. Moreover, due to its high energy content and clean-burning properties, hydrogen is being investigated for its potential to replace or reduce the use of fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Hydrogen is the simplest, and one of the most abundant elements on the Earth. The hydrogen atom is composed of a proton and an electron, and combines with other elements to form a number of common compounds including water (H2O), and methane (CH4), the primary constituent of natural gas. Hydrogen is a commercially important element. Large amounts of hydrogen are combined with nitrogen from the air to produce ammonia (NH3) through a process called the Haber process.… Liquid hydrogen is used in the study of superconductors and, when combined with liquid oxygen, makes an excellent rocket fuel.

Read more…

Many different types of fuel cells are available for a wide range of applications. Small fuel cells can power laptop computers and even cell phones, and military applications. Large fuel cells can supply electricity to electric power grids, supply backup or emergency power in buildings, and supply electricity in places that are not connected to electric power grids.

Colocation Market Absorption Rate

In 2018, colocation absorption rates, which include the cloud providers, have reached record highs, with 357.85 MW in the top U.S. markets and 46.3 MW in the top Canadian markets.

If the U.S. will needs 4,000 more data centers at approximately 200k sq ft (800 Million sqft), 25 MW facilities each (100,000 MW) by 2020 the colocation absorption rate will need to reduce there internal footprint considerably.

There needs to be an overall reduction to remedy this crisis because the U.S., as well as countries around the globe, are creating 600 new zettabytes of data each year, which is about 200% more traffic than current data centers can handle.