Feb 21, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Coal's influence on energy generation is fading fast

U.S. operational coal-fired power capacity, by year outlook was projected
Data: Bloomberg NEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Shutdowns of U.S. coal-fired power plants have outpaced expectations, as the energy sector slowly cleans up its act.

State of play: It's from the latest annual clean energy "factbook" out this week from BloombergNEF, and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

Zoom in: Based on plant owners' reports to the Energy Department stats arm, another 43 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity is slated to retire by 2030.

  • But historic trends suggest this is a big underestimate, the report notes.
  • "[F]or example, in 2018, EIA data suggested that from January 2018 to December 2023 only 37.7GW would retire, compared with the 81.5GW that did retire during that period."

Where it stands: Coal, once dominant, today provides about 15% of U.S. power.

The bottom line: Anticipating fossil fuel demand trajectories — in either direction — is hard.

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