The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that natural gas consumed for electricity this summer will match or come close to matching the record set last year.

In its May 2024 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecast natural gas consumed to generate electricity will average 44.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in the United States during the peak summer months of June through August, matching the record high set in the summer of 2023.

Despite an expected 3% increase in overall electricity generation this summer, the EIA does not expect natural gas generation to grow, as increased renewable production should be able to handle the increased production needed.

The balance of sources of electricity generation in the U.S. has shifted to more renewables and natural gas and less coal, EIA said, especially during the summer. U.S. natural gas-fired electric power generation has increased most years since 2014 as natural gas-fired generation has become more competitive with coal.

Total U.S. natural gas-fired generation capacity has grown by 19%, or 79 GW, since 2014, and generation has grown 60%, or 675,000 GWh, according to data from the EIA’s Electric Power Monthly.

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), May 2024

Simple-cycle natural gas turbine (SCGT) plants, normally used as peaking plants, are dispatched more frequently in summer months when daily fluctuations in electricity demand are highest. SCGT plants have increasingly been used in the summer, which is a major contributing factor to growing natural gas-fired electricity generation. Between 2014 and 2023, the capacity factor at SCGT power plants grew from 8% to 14%. The SCGT power plant capacity factor in 2022 and 2023 averaged over 20% for parts of the summer.

Since 2014, the share of U.S. electricity generation from natural gas in the summer has increased almost every year except 2021, increasing from 29% in 2014 to 46% in 2023. In 2024, the EIA forecast a slight decline in the share of U.S. summer natural gas-fired electricity generation to 44% and a shift to more electricity generation from renewable sources, particularly solar. 

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