U.S. coal production and consumption by electric utilities will continue to decline in 2020, according to the latest outlook from federal energy officials.
Electric utilities are projected to use 558 million short tons (MMst) of coal in 2019 and even less—489 MMst—next year, said
this month’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration. U.S. coal production will total 698 MMst in 2019 and 607 MMst next year, the report projects.
In 2018, coal production was 756 MMst, and electric utilities burned 637 MMst of coal.
EIA attributed the decline to “lower demand for coal in the U.S. electric power sector and reduced competitiveness of U.S. exports in the global market.”
As coal’s presence in the electric sector continues to shrink, generation from non-hydro renewables—mainly wind and solar—will continue to grow. In 2020, the power sector’s generation share from non-hydro renewables will rise to 466 billion kilowatt-hours, accounting for 12% of generation, compared with 408 billion kWh (10%) in 2019, the report said.
In EIA’s forecast, Texas will account for 19% of non-hydro renewable generation in 2019 and 22% in 2020. The Midwest and Central regions will see shares in the 16% to 18% range for 2019 and 2020, according to the report.
Turning to Thanksgiving and holiday driving, EIA predicts slightly higher prices for a gallon of regular gasoline: $2.65 a gallon in November, compared to $2.63 in October. October’s average price was an 11-cent jump over EIA’s earlier projection.
“Average U.S. regular gasoline retail prices were higher than expected, in large part, because of ongoing issues from refinery outages in California,” both planned and unplanned, the report said.
For December, however, EIA predicts that a gallon of regular gasoline will average $2.50. For 2020, the annual average price is projected to be $2.62 a gallon.