By Will Wade
November 2, 2022 - As many as 40 US coal-fired power plants that were slated to shut will run for longer than expected, with operators delaying plans to retire them as supply-chain issues and reliability concerns slow the transition to greener energy.
The plants have almost 17 gigawatts of capacity, and some have pushed back their planned closures by as long as five years, according to Andrew Blumenfeld, director of data analytics at McCloskey by Opis. Consol Energy Inc., one of the largest US coal miners, cited the research in its third-quarter earnings report Tuesday as evidence that demand for coal remains robust.
The delays reveal headwinds for a large-scale shift to cleaner energy, said Blumenfeld. Some coal plants were supposed to be replaced by solar power, but renewables projects have had setbacks as clogged supply chains slow panel deliveries from China. In other cases, utilities or grid operators reconsidered closures to ensure that enough power would be available, especially during summers marked by extreme heat waves.
“The transition is going to happen, but it will be a little more measured,” Blumenfeld said.