Multiple fuels can account for about 20% of US electricity generation, according to estimates by the US Energy Information Administration.
According to a report released Wednesday, the fuel can be switched for approximately 200 gigawatts of America’s electricity generation capacity, or 18% of the total utility-scale generation capacity of 1,116 gigawatts.
This 745 gigawatts of utility-scale electricity generation can use multiple power sources, such as combustion turbines and steam turbines, versus 371 gigawatts of capacity for single-source technologies such as wind turbines, hydropower and nuclear reactors.
The option to switch to other energy sources, when one source becomes limited or expensive, may improve the reliability and flexibility of electricity generation.
In some cases, this ability to switch fuels may be restricted by fuel use or emissions regulations.
Switching from natural gas to petroleum liquids is the most common method of fuel exchange in the United States, with a capacity of approximately 132 GW.
The second most common way to switch fuel is from coal to natural gas, with a capacity of approximately 21 GW.
Combined cycle stations
Natural gas combined cycle plants provided 34% of total utility-scale electric generation last year, the largest share of any technology in the United States.
Domestically, in the United States, about 19% of the total capacity of combined-cycle plants can exchange fuel.
Electricity markets in Florida, New England, and New York have significantly larger shares of gas-fired combined cycle plants, compared to the average in the United States.
In Florida, for example, gas-fired combined-cycle power plants provide 69% of the state’s total generation, of which 56% have the ability to switch fuels.
Simple Cycle Stations
In other electricity markets, natural gas power plants have a smaller share of the total generation capacity, and distilled fuel oil is less available, so the option to switch fuels is less common.
Simple cycle plants powered by natural gas, such as combustion turbines and steam turbines, provide less power to generate electricity than combined cycle plants, however, they may provide important support to the grid during times of high demand.
In Florida, about 94% of gas-fired combustion turbine capacity can switch fuel, while the average share of fuel conversion at gas stations in New England and New York is 80%, nearly double the national average of 45%.
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