Sunday, July 19, 2015

There is a War on Coal, and Coal is Losing

The latest government figures show that since 2010 the share of U.S. electricity produced by coal-fired plants has declined from 45 percent to 30.2 percent. In April, the share produced by natural gas exceeded that produced by coal for the first time. Over the past year, no new coal plants have been opened, but there have been big increases in capacity of natural gas (1.5 gigawatts), solar (937 megawatts), and wind (633 megawatts) generation. Five years ago there were 532 coal-fired electrical plants operating in the U.S., but 200 of them have now closed. Coal production is down 16 percent in the past year alone. Which is bad news for coal miners, but great news for everyone else.


G. Verloren said...

Maybe I'm being a bit pedantic, but I hate phrasing like this. "A war on coal" is not only so hyperbolic as to be absurd, but it also simultaneously dilutes and devalues our collective sense of war itself.

Don't get me wrong - I'm ecstatic that coal power is dying off. But it's not because anything remotely like a war is being waged. And if that ever actually were the case, we ought to be absolutely disgusted and horrified at it being so.

pootrsox said...

Shall we call it, then, the Campaign for Cleaner Energy? :)

leif said...

i agree that 'war on' is a relic of failed policy... war on drugs, war on teror, neither of which has success registering above statistical noise.

some of the reduction in coal usage has been publically mandated (e.g. my state voted to force our incumbent energy company to adjust its energy mix to ramp up renewables--for us, wind and solar--over strenuous objections that the energy provider subsequently completely abandoned and it now toots its own horn for being so green). some reduction is slowly accruing due to more efficient lighting, but our increasing population appears to more than offset that.

it will be 'interesting' (read: depressing) when the shale oil projects all peter out. we better hope we have greatly increased efficiency by then.

John said...

Yes, shale oil and gas are a temporary expedient, but the two or three decades grace they give up should be time to get alternative energy up and running in a big way.