The U.S. is expected to burn 22 percent more coal than last year, marking the first annual increase in the use of the polluting fossil fuel since 2014, the Energy Information Administration said.
“The U.S. electricity sector is generating more electricity from coal-fired power plants this year as a result of significantly higher natural gas prices and stable coal prices,” the government agency said. tell. Coal is selling for record prices, though, and economists say energy costs are high additional fuel.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The report is a setback for those plans, but the EIA predicts a bump in coal use. will be released, with 2022 consumption reduced by 5 percent from this year.
“In many areas of the country, these two fuels compete to provide electricity based on their relative prices,” the company said. “U.S. natural gas prices have been more volatile than coal prices, so the price of natural gas often determines the relative share of generation provided by natural gas and coal.”
Oil consumption in the US has declined every year since 2005. Last year, it was even lower 60 percent from above. Most coal in the US is burned to make electricity.
Natural gas prices this summer are the highest they’ve been since 2014. Warmer weather prompts more people to use air conditioning, and since most of the nation’s energy is produced by natural gas, added demand causes prices to rise. They’re still nowhere near this year’s peak, which occurred when a Texas cold snap reduced natural gas production while increasing it, briefly driving prices to more than triple. The effects of that temporary spike were felt across the country, with borrowers as far away as Minnesota feeling the pain.
The EIA expects another, smaller spike in natural gas prices this winter. That’s not unusual, but what sets this year apart is the expected size and duration of that price increase. Due to high summer demand, less natural gas is sent to storage for the winter. The complex provisions will mean high pricemore than double the 2019 peak and about 40 percent higher than 2018 numbers.
In the coming years, coal and natural gas prices will have little impact on energy prices. As power plants grow, though, the EIA anticipation that new fossil fuel plants will be less competitive with renewables like solar and wind. For new plants entering service by 2026, solar, offshore wind, and geothermal are expected to be the cheapest sources of electricity, outstripping nearly 20 percent of new gas plants and plants. new coal by more than 50 percent. Even stable battery storage would be within 10 percent of the cost of so-called peaker natural gas plants that operate only during periods of high demand. Solar hybrid battery installations will be almost 60 percent cheaper than peak plants.
While coal prices are more stable than natural gas prices, the cost of electricity produced from coal has also risen over the last decade or so. In West Virginia, where nearly 90 percent of electricity is produced from coal, electricity prices have risen 122 percentfar outpacing inflation, which was 21 percent.
Other states that have traditionally relied on coal, such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, have all reduced their use in the past decade. Pennsylvania, for example, used to get about 50 percent of its electricity from coal in 2010. Today, coal plants have only 10 percent.