Coal

Published on April 12th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

17

US Coal Production Continues To Plunge, According To IEEFA

April 12th, 2016 by  

US coal production is running more than 30% below the same period in 2015, continuing the industry’s historic downward trend, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

According to a new ‘Data Bite’ from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), production of US coal is currently running 30% below the same period a year earlier, reflecting what the IEEFA describes as “an historic shift in both the coal industry and the electric power sector it serves.”

IEEFA-5

As can be seen, coal production has been plunging each year since its peak production year in 2008. Add in weekly production statistics from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that the decline has in fact increased even more so recently, and the US coal industry is likely to be shaking in their soot-stained boots.

Earlier this year, the EIA published figures showing that US coal production had reached its lowest levels since 1986, dropping 10% in 2015.

To put the recent weekly decrease in perspective, in the week ending April 2, the US coal industry produced only 11 million tonnes of coal. While this is a lot, it still pales in comparison to previous years — 38% less than the same week in 2015, and half the amount mined in the comparable week in 2008. According to the IEEFA, it amounts to what “is most likely among the lowest weekly output figures in decades.”

The IEEFA also notes that the “pressures on production aren’t likely to end soon” either. On top of low prices, coal company bankruptcies, and mine closures, figures from the Energy Information Administration revealed that year-end coal stockpiles at electric plants were the highest in 25 years, due to the warmest winter on record minimizing electricity demand.

To top it all off, US coal exports fell 23% in 2015 — the third consecutive year of declines.


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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • Matt

    No matter how you look at it or what you credit. Dropping ~50% in six year (2008-2016) is a massive impact on the industry. Old king Coal is die’in!

  • jonesey

    It would be interesting to see this time series over a period of 15 years or so. Is there a more or less linear decline? If so, at what point does that line intercept the x axis, getting us to zero, or at least negligible coal production in the US? 2025?

    I think that the end of coal will come a lot sooner than any “realistic” forecasters are predicting today.

  • jdeely

    Huge drop in coal-based electricity for TX (Jan- Mar) – http://www.ercot.com/content/wcm/lists/89476/ERCOT2016D_E.xlsx

    Wind beat coal for Mar – 21.4% to 12.9% !!

  • Brian

    Great news. Wind and solar, which are dropping dramatically in price, can be scaled up to replace dirty coal plants, and produce no emissions.

  • Soylent Green

    Hmm, are we ready for the population surge as life expectancy rates go up globally?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Might be more than offset by dropping pregnancy rates as people react to the zika virus. I suspect a lot of women are going to hold off on having babies until this problem is sorted out.

      • Calamity_Jean

        If I were of child-bearing age, I certainly would.

  • Deep Time

    Peabody Coal will file for bankruptcy today. Good riddance!

  • J.H.

    This is a game changer, the revolution is real.

  • heinbloed

    Netherlands leave coal power, 7 out of 10 plants will be closed this year.

    http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2016/04/09/kabinet-overweegt-sluiting-kolencentrales

    Machine translation:

    https://translate.google.ie/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nrc.nl%2Fnieuws%2F2016%2F04%2F09%2Fkabinet-overweegt-sluiting-kolencentrales&edit-text=

    The Dutch government claims that the court decision is not legally binding to the 3 latest coal power plants, we will see …..

    € 5 billions in social expenditures will be saved by closing the coal power plants:

    http://fd.nl/economie-politiek/1147020/sluiting-alle-kolencentrales-levert-bijna-5-mrd-op

    For a free access to the article use the search engine and type-in the head line

    ” Sluiting alle kolencentrales levert bijna €5 mrd aan extra welvaart op “

  • heinbloed
    • Zorba

      Just came here to post that but I see you beat me to it! I would never have believed that was coming a few years ago. The industry is changing incredibly quickly.

  • Bob_Wallace

    It’s not just US coal. Coal be fade, fade, fadin’ away….

    .

  • Bob_Wallace

    Yes, but overall renewables are taking market share away from fossil fuels.

    I suspect your OilPrice link has it wrong. The EPA is closing down a lot of coal plants over the next few months.

    .

    • Freddy D

      There are some good time series plots out there showing share of electricity sources over time. For the first time in decades coal is not number one. It’s pretty clear that the main reason coal has gone from 50% of US generation a few years ago to 32% is primarily low nat gas prices. Non-hydro renewables are up to about 8%, so that does help but it remains small.

      Good news is multifold though:
      Coal is utterly useless to balance a high-renewable grid, nat gas is pretty good.
      Migrating the momentum out of the entire coal supply chain moves people to other jobs. (I’m sure a painful process, but I’ve done it myself several times in the technology biz)
      Renewables are growing exponentially not linearly
      Nat gas puts less GHG into the air than coal (I know this is debatable – that’s why I put it last. Ignore it if you’d like).

      • bill_christian

        Coal is not utterly useless for balancing the grid. Yes, it is very slow to stop and start. But a coal plant has a “gas pedal” and can quickly ramp up or down between 100% and maybe 30% as needed.

  • heinbloed
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