January 5, 2018 Read More →

Natural Gas, Plant Closures To Challenge Coal In 2018

SNL:

The coal sector found some balance in 2017 and hopes for a stable 2018, but another round of plant retirements and new natural gas facilities in the pipeline threatens to further diminish the industry’s domestic customer base in the coming months.

The sector remains in secular decline despite a slight correction in markets as coal producers bounced back from a rapid drop in demand, said Moody’s Vice President and senior analyst Anna Zubets-Anderson. Another major contraction is likely in the next few years as natural gas power plants continue to come online and coal plants shut down, she added.

“We have a significant amount of natural gas capacity coming online, and that’s when we’ll see coal being squeezed,” Zubets-Anderson said of the next few years. “They are going to have to burn natural gas, and they are going to have to displace something. A lot of coal plants have already been shut down, and I don’t think much of anything is going to bring them back.”

An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis published in December 2017 showed planned natural gas combined-cycle generating projects totaled more than 89 GW of scheduled capacity as of early November 2017. Much of that was in the early stages of development, with most capacity scheduled to come online through 2020. About 45% of the planned additions are in the coal-heavy PJM Interconnection.

Compounding coal’s challenges from new natural gas capacity is a lack of new coal generation as old coal plants retire. Many large utilities, even those with coal-heavy portfolios, have increasingly expressed a desire to move away from coal even with a friendly administration trying to support the fuel.

An October 2017 analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence showed scheduled and completed retirements of coal-fired power plants between 2013 and 2017 totaled 39.8 GW. Another 9.8 GW of coal-fired capacity is set for retirement by 2021. Both figures only include coal units for which a firm retirement date has been set, and some retirement announcements were not yet included in the total.

More ($): https://platform.mi.spglobal.com/web/client?auth=inherit#news/article?id=43090901&cdid=A-43090901-15146

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