There’s no way around it: The future is dim for U.S. coal. The U.S. coal power plant fleet has been shrinking for years, with the official tally of coal plants closed exceeding those still open as of late last year . Another 43 gigawatts, or about 18 percent of the remaining 249 gigawatts of capacity, is expected to close by 2030. Absent “market interventions at a grand scale” — such as the Trump administration’s plan to force utilities to buy uncompetitive coal-fired power under the mandate of national security — the same trends are accelerating beyond current estimates, and could lead to the country’s coal fleet being nearly halved again by 2030. These are some of the conclusions of a note released this week by the research firm Rhodium Group. According to its analysis, while “the Department of Energy contemplates action to prop up ailing coal and nuclear plants, low natural-gas prices and cheap renewables have the potential to drive far more coal off the grid.” Rhodium Group’s new projections, based on data collected for its Taking Stock 2018 report released in June, use a range of scenarios to project both retirements of coal capacity and reductions in total […]

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