U.S. coal production to flatten or fall through 2040

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 34 views 

Coal production is expected to either remain flat or decline through 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over the past decade, coal production has fallen as the use of natural gas and renewable energy has risen. More than 92% of U.S. coal is used for power generation.

In the Annual Energy Outlook 2017, the EIA projects the level of production based on “alternative assumptions about U.S. environmental policy and levels of oil and natural gas resource development and technological advancement.”

In the EIA’s reference case, the projection taking into account all existing laws and regulations, coal production is expected to fall 16% to 620 million short tons in 2040, from 740 million short tons in 2016. “By 2040, U.S. coal production drops to roughly half the level of peak coal production reached by the United States in 2008,” according to the EIA.

In the projection without the Clean Power Plan, “coal generation and production are significantly higher,” stabilizing at about 900 million short tons, between 2025 and 2040, according to the EIA. But the projection with a favorable outlook for natural gas supply shows coal production falling to 500 million short tons in 2040 “as natural gas-fired generation outcompetes coal-fired generation in all years.”

In the reference case, about 96 gigawatts of the existing 265 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity are expected to be retired or converted to natural gas by 2040. “Few coal-fired plants have been added in recent years,” and in all of the EIA’s projections, “no new coal-fired generating capacity is added. In all cases, annual coal production remains below the 1,000 (million short tons) level last seen in 2014.”

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