- Nov 1, 2021 4:13 pm GMT
"We expect 22% more U.S. coal-fired generation in 2021 than in 2020, according to our latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). The U.S. electric power sector has been generating more electricity from coal-fired power plants this year as a result of significantly higher natural gas prices and relatively stable coal prices. This year, 2021, will yield the first year-over-year increase in coal generation in the United States since 2014.
Coal and natural gas have been the two largest sources of electricity generation in the United States. In many areas of the country, these two fuels compete to supply electricity based on their relative costs. U.S. natural gas prices have been more volatile than coal prices, so the cost of natural gas often determines the relative share of generation provided by natural gas and coal.
Because natural gas-fired power plants convert fuel to electricity more efficiently than coal-fired plants, natural gas-fired generation can have an economic advantage even if natural gas prices are slightly higher than coal prices. Between 2015 and 2020, the cost of natural gas delivered to electric generators remained relatively low and stable. This year, however, natural gas prices have been much higher than in recent years. The year-to-date delivered cost of natural gas to U.S. power plants has averaged $4.93 per million British thermal units (Btu), more than double last year’s price."
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