U.S. coal consumption last year at historic low

Aug. 3 (UPI) — Coal consumption in the U.S. power sector last year was the lowest in more than 30 years and the fourth straight year for a decline, the government stated.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in a daily brief on Friday that the nation’s power sector consumed 661 million short tons of coal last year, the lowest level since 1983.

“Electric power sector coal consumption in 2017 was 36 percent lower than in 2008, when U.S. coal production reached its highest level,” the report read.

DNV GL, a Norwegian company providing risk management advice, in a June survey of 813 senior oil and gas professionals found 64 percent of the sector leaders expected to either increase or sustain spending on natural gas projects this year. More than three quarters of those surveyed said it will be natural gas that leads the global economy to a low-carbon future.

The shift is represented by global perceptions of coal. Survey results showed that 72 percent of those responding to the Norwegian company said coal may become obsolete in the decades ahead. By region, it’s the Middle East and North Africa that is shifting most as only 33 percent of survey respondents in North America said they were moving toward a low-carbon energy mix.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been a vocal supporter of the fossil fuels industry. In his inaugural State of the Union address, the president declared an end to the “war on clean coal.” Coal accounts for about 30 percent of total energy used globally and about 40 percent of total electricity generation

The Department of Energy in May called on stakeholders to submit information that could support the design and operation of small-scale coal “plants of the future,” the U.S. government said.

The objective of the request is to solicit stakeholder input on ways to develop small-scale plants that would use coal, but with lower emissions.

EIA data to May show coal as a component of power generation declined 5.5 percent from last year. Natural gas, which has the largest share of electric power generation, increased 16 percent and renewables increased 2 percent from last May.

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