Despite what President Trump is saying, coal power seems to take a different route.
Coal has been a cornerstone of the US electric power system from its inception 1882 all the way until 2016 when it was surpassed by natural gas. It´s been a tough decade for US coal. Despite President Trumps effort to support the sector. Coal generation capacity was 260 GW at the end of 2017. That is roughly 50 GW or 16% lower than in 2011. 2018 seems to be the year when US coal plant retirements near all-time high. Twenty coal-fired power plants have closed or will close by year end amounting to almost 17 GW generation capacity. Enough to power 12 million homes.
US electricity consumption grew by 3,5% in 1H18. At the same time coal fired power production declined by 5,6% representing 27,3% of total net production compared to 30,6% a year ago. Environmental regulations, many of the initiated by president Obama, has been a key driver for closures for many years. But this year and going forward there is no question about that fierce competition from cheap gas and zero-marginal-cost renewables will be the driving source. The coal sector´s biggest hope might ironically be a faster electrification of the PV fleet than anticipated. At best that would slow down the retirement.