The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected in August that natural gas-fired electric power sector generation in the contiguous U.S. will increase to 1,600 million MWh by 2040, a 1.3% average annual increase. For the U.S., increasing natural gas supply will result in unexpected future growth in natural gas-fired electric generation, particularly after 2020. Total U.S. natural gas production will increase 56% from 2012 to 2040, largely because of the development of shale gas, tight gas, and offshore natural gas resources.
The three regions with the highest growth in natural gas-fired generation – SERC Reliability Corp. (SERC), ReliabilityFirst Corp. (RFC), and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) – also have the highest overall amounts of coal-fired generation.
Coal-fired generation still grows significantly in the SERC and RFC regions, despite significant retirements of coal-fired capacity and the increased cost of building new coal-fired facilities. In the WECC region, natural gas- fired power competes with renewable sources for future electric power demand, while in the Texas Reliability Entity region, natural gas accounts for almost all the growth in new generation.