Which types of power plants are oldest?
The current fleet of electric power generators has a wide range of ages. The Nation’s oldest power plants tend to be hydropower generators.
- Most coal-fired plants were built before 1980.
- There was a wave of nuclear plant construction from the late 1960s to about 1990.
- The most recent waves of generating capacity additions include natural gas-fired units in the 2000s and renewable units, primarily wind, coming online in the late 2000s.
What is the age of U.S. generating capacity?
About 530 gigawatts, or 51% of all generating capacity, were at least 30 years old at the end of 2010 (see chart below). Most gas-fired capacity is less than 10 years old, while 73% of all coal-fired capacity was 30 years or older at the end of 2010. The ‘other’ category includes solar, biomass, and geothermal generators, as well as landfill gas, municipal solid waste, and a variety of small-magnitude fuels such as byproducts from industrial processes (e.g., black liquor, blast furnace gas).
What are the trends for each type of generator?
Learn more about trends in generating capacity additions by fuel type in the following articles:
- Coal — Today in Energy, June 28, 2011
- Nuclear — Today in Energy, June 30, 2011
- Natural Gas — Today in Energy, July 5, 2011
- Hydropower — Today in Energy, July 8, 2011
- Wind — Today in Energy, July 13, 2011
- Oil — Today in Energy, July 18, 2011