Monday, May 18, 2015

Coal's Future Facing Three Hurdles and Steady Decline, Projections Show

Coal's Long Goodbye (Graphic Credit: Paul Horn/InsideClimate News) Click to Enlarge.
If coal were a medical patient, its prognosis would be creeping toward the critical list.

Despite the major forces trying to align to save it, coal's future as a major energy source is being attacked by a variety of pathogens: government regulations, market forces and moral arguments.  As a result, government charts plotting coal's life expectancy look like the flat vital signs of a very sick patient.

Those charts don't even take into account President Obama's regulation to crack down on carbon emissions from the nation's nearly 600 coal-fired power plants, which will no doubt send the vital signs plunging.

The Energy Department's statistical arm, the Energy Information Administration, forecasts in its its latest annual energy outlook that U.S. coal production "remains below its 2008 level through 2040."  And that is without weaving in the impact of the Clean Power Plan, because it hasn't yet taken effect.

For the next 15 years or so production might creep up, it said, but only by a fraction of a percent each year.  Considering that production has dropped 16 percent between 2008 and 2013, that's hardly a robust recovery.

And then the tepid growth evaporates away.  From 2030 on, the report said, demand for coal from its main users, electric power companies, would be essentially flat.

Read more at Coal's Future Facing Three Hurdles and Steady Decline, Projections Show

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