Nuclear surpasses coal-fired power generation in historic movement


Coal-fired power generation in the United States was lower than power generation from natural gas and nuclear power plants in 2020, with coal phased out of the two major sources of electricity for the first time since at least 1949 , the Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted Thursday.

An almost 30% reduction in coal-fired power generation capacity and a decrease in the use of the remaining power plants since 2008 resulted in a drop in coal-fired power generation, which in 2020 was lower than that of nuclear, said the EIA.

Last year, natural gas-fired power plants generated the highest volume of electricity in the United States, 1.6 billion megawatt hours (MWh), while nuclear power generation came in second with 790 million MWh. Coal-fired electricity came in third, generating 774 million MWh, according to data from the EIA’s Electric Power Monthly.

According to EIA data, US coal production and consumption have been declining since the peak in 2008 and 2007, respectively. In 2019, for example, coal production in the United States hit its lowest level since 1978, while coal consumption fell to its lowest since 1975.

The rise of renewables and the decline in coal-fired electricity generation resulted in the consumption of energy from renewables in the United States exceeding coal consumption in 2019 for the first time since 1885.

Due to the increase in natural gas production and the increase in natural gas-fired generation, the capacity of coal-fired power generation continue to retire in the United States As a result of the withdrawals of coal production capacity, electricity generation from coal has declined dramatically over the past decade to the point of reaching its peak. lowest level in 42 years in 2019.

Coal’s share of power generation in the United States was 20% in 2020, but it is expected to average 23% in 2021 and 2022, according to the latest EIA report. Short-term energy outlook (STEO). The expected rise in natural gas prices should make coal more competitive in the power generation sector. Nuclear power generation, on the other hand, is expected to decline due to the planned withdrawal of three nuclear power plants totaling 5.1 GW of capacity this year.

By Charles Kennedy for Oil chauffage

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