Dirty king coal is still on track to surpass natural gas generation for 2017, with total shares of almost 32 % and 31%, respectively, the latest short-term energy outlook from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows. That near-tie comes after natural gas generated 34% of the nation’s electricity needs in 2016, with coal finishing at 30%.
Turning his back on former President Obama’s clean energy aspirations, the new FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee calls for coal to be “properly compensated” for baseload power and “recognized as an essential part of the fuel mix.” Asserting his commitment to the “resilience and reliability” of the US electric system, he said in a podcast released by FERC this week that ensuring security of supply would merit keeping even uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants operational. “These are essential to national security,” he claimed.
Natural gas-fuelled power generation in the United States reached its highest daily level at 41 Bcf/day on July 20 – just a tick lower than the 2016 peak of 42 Bcf/d seen on August 11 last year. Higher gas prices relative to last summer explain part of the decrease; but PointLogic Energy analysts stressed that “although power burn in 2017 is lower than in 2016, it is still relatively high compared with the previous five-year average for that period.”
Despite pledges South Korea’s new liberal President Moon Jae-in to halt several nuclear and coal power projects, the country’s remains highly dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, the output of coal-fired power plants topped 95,500 GWh in the first five month of 2017, up 13.6% year-on-year, according to data by Korea Power Exchange.
Demand from the industrial sector becomes the main engine of gas consumption growth, replacing power generation, where gas is being squeezed by growing renewables and competition from coal, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its latest five-year forecast Gas 2017. Global gas demand is forecast to rise from 3,630 bcm today to nearly 4,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2022.
Spurred by the global expansion in LNG supply and trade, the growth of natural gas supply in absolute terms will outperform that of all other energy sources, notably coal and oil, CEDIGAZ said in its latest Medium and Long Term Natural Gas Outlook 2017. According to projections made by the Paris-based energy consultants, the share of gas in the world primary energy supply will rise from 21.2% in 2014 to 23.9% in 2035.
Utilities in India will face the most disruption” when having to come to terms with the trend that by 2020, renewable power will be the cheapest form of new-build capacity in most of the world, according to Morgan Stanley Research. “We think the market for Indian utilities has yet to fully price in the impacts of solar power becoming the cheapest form of new generation,” analysts said, remarking “[this is] driving our downgrade of the Indian utilities industry to In-Line.”
Though burning coal for generating electricity is cheap, and Japan is home to supercritical high-efficiency coal power stations, key ministers warned that if all proposed coal-fired capacity got built this would put Japan’s emission reduction targets in jeopardy. "It doesn't matter if they are highly efficient or not, power stations using coal are seen outdated as EU and other countries are moving away from them," environment minister Kouichi Yamamoto said.
No new coal-fired generating capacity is added to the U.S. power mix in all cases set out in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017 (AEO2017). Analysts stressed, however, that actual production levels of hard coal and lignite depend on resource availability on technological advancement – not just on policy choices around the much-debated effects of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
As the energy mix across the United States continues to shift towards renewables and gas, the carbon intensity of the overall electric power sector is now lower than that of gas-fired power generation. After averaging near 60kg CO2/MMBtu for decades, the combustion-weighted carbon intensity in the electric power sector fell to 48kg CO2/MMBtu in 2016 – slightly lower than that of natural gas, which produces 53kg CO2/MMBtu.