May 9, 2018 Read More →

EIA Says Coal Output, Share of Electricity-Generation Market to Continue Falling

Casper Star Tribune:

Coal’s share in the nation’s electricity mix is predicted to fall to 29 percent this year, as natural gas-fired power continues to increase, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook released Tuesday.

Coincidently, coal production is expected to decline, though that slide may take place in the Appalachian coal region more than Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Wyoming mines provide about 40 percent of the coal burned in U.S. power plants, more than the next six coal-producing states.

Wyoming coal production took a steep dive in 2016, when three of the largest coal companies that operate mines in Wyoming were in bankruptcy. Additionally, weak demand for coal in the electricity sector at the time, and competition brought by cheap natural gas took a toll on Wyoming mines. The industry rallied last year, though hope of a return to previous norms has dimmed.

Coal production is predicted to fall this year by 3 percent nationally, down to 751 million short tons. The amount of coal that is used in the country, particularly by coal-fired power plants, will be down as well.

The outlook also touched on coal’s competitor, natural gas. The national spot price, Henry Hub, is expected to average about $3 this year, rising to an average $3.11 in 2019. At that price point, coal firms argue they can still compete. But as coal’s contribution falls, natural gas will take the largest slice of the electricity mix in 2018, rising to 34 percent compared to 32 percent last year.

Most of the new power capacity built this year is also expected to be in the form of natural gas plants. There are no new coal plans in development nationally.

More: Report: Coal To Cede More Of Its Share In The Electricity Mix This Year

 

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