Monday, March 20, 2017

Nuclear Refueling Begins: Large Drop in US Nuclear Capacity Factor Over the Weekend

Nuclear power output capacity factor dropped from 88% to 82% over the weekend, as units came offline.  That improves the power burn potential for natural gas, and a full gas replacement of the lost nuclear output would see about 1BCFD more gas being burned today than on this day last year.  This imbalance is projected to persist for some time.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MISO Coal to Gas Switching Snapshot: March 2016 vs 2017

Load-adjusted, gas is averaging about 5 points of thermal marketshare below last year in March.

The slope is also different, with market-share varying more directly with overall thermal load size.  With lower demand anticipated as weather moderates in the back half of March, the market share loss should be more pronounced, since thermal demand in the 8-10 BCFE range is showing a gas share around 37%, vs last year at 43%.

Compounding this loss for natural gas is the higher wind output experienced in MISO.  Average daily wind output is 185 GWH this month, vs 135 last March.  That's a MASSIVE difference, displacing something on the order of 400 MMCF per day.  (The increased wind output isn't just in MISO either, it is big in SPP and ERCOT)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Solar Power: Small Beginnings that Matter Quickly

Texas is late to the utility-scale solar power game, but keep one eye on these small beginnings.

It takes perhaps 120 GWH per day to displace a BCF of natural gas, so a tiny number like 6 GWH seems insignificant.  But capacity will grow quickly against a backdrop of low/no load growth, and say 20 GWHD still adds up to 60 BCF per year in gas offset.  With summer sun, and more capacity, coming quickly in the ERCOT region, this graph may take on an interesting slope soon....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

MISO Natural Gas Market Share Continues To Steal From Coal

High loads have helped, but in general natural gas is regaining market share from coal since mid-February.  It is not just a few percentage points below 2016 levels, despite a higher market price.  This should help keep a floor under gas prices so long as weather doesn't abandon north america completely this summer:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Winter Heating Requirements Weak Despite Cold Spell

This winter is barely keeping pace with last year's anemic performance.

Through the 3/20 forecast period, we are just 67 HDD's ahead of last year (OCT-MAR), and a full 504 HDD's behind the 20 year average: