Coal power will likely continue losing market share in 2018, as several coal power plants are scheduled to retire. The coal plants will largely be replaced by inexpensive natural gas power.
According to Scientific American, 22 gigawatts of coal power capacity is scheduled to shut down in 2018. That is nearly half as much as the 51 gigawatts of coal power that shut down in the five-year span of 2012 through 2016. The 51-gigawatt reduction in coal power capacity, coupled with market-share gains by other sources (primarily natural gas), reduced coal’s market share from 42 percent of U.S. generation in 2011 to 30 percent in 2016.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Fortunately for U.S. electricity consumers, the low cost of natural gas assures electricity prices will remain relatively stable as coal power plants close. Although coal power has dropped to 30 percent of market share since its recent peak in 2008, inflation-adjusted electricity prices have remained flat. So long as natural gas remains the primary replacement for retiring coal power plants, electricity prices should rise very little, if at all, as coal power plants close.