Power Shortages Coming Soon to America

Existing power plants are projected to retire at a faster pace than installations of new units, and dependence on renewable projects are threatening widespread power shortages, according to a new report by regional power transmission company PJM Interconnection.

PJM analysis shows that 40 gigawatts (GW) of existing power generation is at risk of retirement by 2030, accounting for 21 percent of its current installed capacity. Meanwhile, 290 GW worth of new power supply is seeking to connect to PJM’s grid. But 94 percent of this power supply is made up of renewable energy projects that tend to only have a completion rate of 5 percent. This casts doubt on the ability of new power supply to replace old supply. PJM covers 13 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

PJM also forecasts power demand growth of 1.4 percent annually over the next decade. Certain individual zones might even show demand growth as high as 7 percent per year due to the expansion of clusters of data centers as well as overall electrification.

The retirement of existing power generation combined with the growing demand for power will create a supply gap.

According to the report, the pace of new power generation addition will likely be “insufficient” to fill this supply gap by 2030. As such, the completion rates of upcoming projects will have to “increase significantly” to maintain necessary reserve margins, it said.

Decline in Reserve Margins

Reserve margin refers to the amount of unused available power capacity of an electric power system. A reserve margin of 10 percent would mean that an entity has excess capacity amounting to 10 percent of peak demand.

According to PJM projections, the reserve margin could fall from 26 percent in 2023 to 15 percent by 2030 even in the best-case scenario. Reserve margins are critical during times of adverse weather conditions and periods of high demand. A decline suggests less reliability of power.

“The lopsided energy transition is resulting mainly from Biden’s energy policies and state mandates driving fossil fuel generation to shut down as renewable and storage projects are being developed. These are policy choices by political leaders and utilities are responding as directed,” stated a Mar. 2nd analysis of the PJM report by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

Since PJM usually generates a power surplus owing to its large fossil-fuel generation sources, the entity sells excess power to neighboring grids. As such, the retirement of 21 percent of the current installed capacity by 2030 might potentially affect the power situation in these regions as well, it stated.

In Vietnam, the government sets the retail price of gasoline, which is adjusted every 10 days to reflect changes in the price of the commodity on the world market. Now, gas stations in Vietnam are starting to close due to widespread shortages.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the issue, read about it here.

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