The Energy Information Administration posted a fascinating update on its Today In Energy page earlier this week (Feb. 27, 2017) regarding recent utility-scale generating capacity additions and retirements across the U.S. Of particular interest to me was what amounted to a throw-away paragraph toward the bottom of the update that tallied up the generation retirements since 2002. In that 15-year period, EIA said, utilities and other generators have retired more than 53 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity. Interestingly, EIA added, “a nearly equal amount of natural gas-fired capacity (54 GW) retired over the same period.” So much for that much-ballyhooed “war on coal.” Clearly, there was no such war, unless you want to blame market forces; as EIA noted about both the coal and gas retirements, the units taken off-line were almost all older, smaller and less efficient. For additional coverage about the mythical war on coal see my articles here and here.
Last week (May 15, 2015), the Energy Information Administration posted an interesting graphic in its Today In Energy series about U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. In its write-up regarding the graphic, inserted below, EIA pointed out that CO2 emissions have fallen steadily since the mid-2000s, driven downward by increases in efficiency, a shift from coal to natural gas in the utility industry, and increases in nuclear and renewable generation. Still, EIA added, emissions are likely to go up in the years ahead.
What strikes me in looking at the graphic, however, is not that CO2 emissions will rise, but that they are NEVER expected to climb back to the mid-2000s highs even if the agency’s high economic growth forecast pans out. That says something important about the transformation under way in the U.S. utility industry.
It is also worth noting that EIA’s projections do not include potential reductions from the pending Clean Power Plan.
Notes from from the Energy Information Administration’s November 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook:
–Annual generation from non-hydropower renewables is expected to surpass hydropower output for the first time in 2014. The two resources have been trending closer for several years and there have been individual months when non-hydro renewables topped conventional hydropower, but as yet never for an entire year.
–Windpower is expected to generate 4.7 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2015.
— U.S. crude oil production is expected to hit 9 million barrels per day (mb/d) in December, and average 9.4 mb/d in 2015. The 2015 forecast would put U.S. oil production at its highest level since 1972.
— Imports’ share of petroleum and other liquids consumption in the U.S. has plummeted from 60 percent of the total in 2005 to just 33 percent in 2013. The decline is expected to continue, with imports accounting for just 21 percent of total U.S. demand in 2015–the lowest level since 1970.
— Henry Hub spot prices for natural gas are expected to average $4.44 per thousand cubic feet in 2014, the sixth consecutive year spot prices have been less than $5 per mcf. The forecast for 2015 is even better, at just $3.83 per mcf.
— U.S. gasoline consumption for the year is expected to total 8.85 mb/d, up slightly from 2013 but still well below the peak year of 2007 when consumption totaled just under 9.3 mb/d.
–Partly due to soaring U.S. production–EIA expects U.S crude and liquids output to have climbed almost 4 mb/d by year-end 2015 from the beginning of 2013–and lagging world demand, crude and gasoline prices are expected to be sharply lower next year when compared to previous forecasts. In particular, EIA says U.S. gas prices should average less than $3 per gallon in 2015–the first time that has happened since 2010.
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