Cheap gas and support for renewables drive US coal plant closures

Ahead of the S&P Global Platts Global Power Markets conference in Las Vegas, April 8-10, 2019, The Barrel presents a series of articles on the global and US electricity sectors. Here, Morris Greenberg explores the drivers behind US coal generation retirements in recent years. The aging US coal fleet is being squeezed from all sides, with policy, cheap domestic gas supply and developments in clean energy generation all contributing to fast-paced closures. Since peaking at 317 GW at the end of 2011, US generating capacity with coal as the primary fuel fell by 73 GW, or 23%, due to retirement of 61 GW and primary fuel conversion – mainly to natural gas – of 16 GW. This was offset by additions of 4 GW. Most of the additions were made early on in this eight-year period. Coal-fired generation has fallen even more steeply than capacity, with a decline of 33.5% between calendar years 2011 and 2018. The drop reflects a reduction in average capacity factor (utilization rate) from 62% to 52%. While capacity factors have stabilized during the past three years, announced plans for retirement of around 20 GW and conversion of around 5 GW indicate that, without some form… continue reading

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Source: CTRM Center

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