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EIA: US Coal-Fired Power Generation in December Falls 25.1% on Year



March 2, 2020 - US coal-fired power generation totaled 72.6 TWh in December, down 4.1% from November, US Energy Information Administration data said.

The generation declined 25.1% from the year-ago month, the largest year-on-year drop throughout 2019.

From the five-year average of about 107 TWh in December, generation was at a 32.2% deficit this year, the steepest decline since June.

Out of total power generation, coal took a 21.5% share, down 2.4 percentage points from November’s share.

Throughout 2019, the month with the lowest coal-fired generation was April, with 60.1 TWh, while generation peaked in January, with 101 TWh.

Additionally, coal-fired power production averaged 23.4% in 2019, compared with 27.3% in 2018.

Coal-fired plant capacity averaged 43.2% in December, down from 46% a month before and 55% lower from the year-ago month. On an annual basis, coal-fired plant capacity averaged 47.6%, compared with 53.9% in 2018.

Natural gas contributed over 129 TWh in December, up 9.8% from the month before and up 20.9% from the year-ago month. It was the first monthly increase in four months, in addition to the strongest year on year jump in 2019.

Gas also took a 38.4% share of power generation, up slightly from 37.2% in November. Generation averaged 38.1% throughout 2019, compared with 34.9% the year before.

From the five-year average of over 103 TWh in December, gas was up 25.4%.

The capacity factor for gas plants was 57% in December, compared with 52.3% in the previous month. Capacity was up from 50.7% in the year-ago month.

Capacity averaged 57.9% in 2019, almost flat with capacity of 57.6% in the year before.

Total renewable generation, including hydro, was 59.2 TWh, up 5.1% from November and 1.1% higher from the year-ago month.

Renewables produced 17.5% of total generation in December, down slightly from 17.8% in the previous month. Throughout 2019, renewables averaged generation of 17.8%, compared with 17.3% the previous year.

Hydro produced 22.2 TWh in December, up 8.1% month on month and down 6.4% from the year-ago month. Utility solar produced 3.5 TWh, down 20.1% from the previous month and up 9.6% from the year-ago month. Wind produced 27.2 TWh, up 6% from November and 9.5% higher from the year-ago month.

While hydro took 6.6% of generation, solar made up 1% and wind made 8.1%.

Capacity factors for renewables in December were 35.6% for wind, relatively flat month on month, 13.1% for solar, down from 17.5%, and 37.4% for hydro, down from 35.7%.

Through 2019, the capacity factor for wind averaged 36.3%, compared with 37.4% in 2018, solar averaged 25%, down from 26.1% in 2018, and hydro was 39.6%, compared with 42.7%.