Coal consumption to fall to 691 million short tons
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting coal consumption this year will reach its lowest point in 39 years.
The EIA is expecting total coal consumption to fall to 691 million short tons (MMst), which represents a 4 percent decline from 2017 and the lowest level since 1979.
Coal consumption reached its peak in 2007 but has been falling since that point. The report stated that the decline is the result of both the retirements of coal-fired power plants and the decreases in the capacity factors, or utilization, of coal plants as increased competition from natural gas and renewable sources have reduced coal’s market share.
Coal-fired capacity totaled 313 gigawatts (GW) across 1,470 generators in 2007, but 529 of those generators, with a total capacity of 55 GW, had retired by the end of 2017.
Thus far in 2018, the report showed that 11 GW of coal-fired generating capacity has retired through September and another three GW are expected to retire in the final three months of the year, based on data provided to EIA by plant owners and operators.
If the plants retire as planned, 2018 will be the second-highest year for coal retirements. Another four GW of capacity are planning to retire by the end of 2019 and coal retirements were highest in 2015, driven in part by stricter emissions standards required by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which went into effect in April of that year for coal- and natural gas-fired power plants.
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