May 4, 2018

Natural gas prices, not ‘war on coal,’ were key to coal power decline

Posted by in categories: economics, energy


New research from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado Boulder finds that steep declines in the use of coal for power generation over the past decade were caused largely by less expensive natural gas and the availability of wind energy – not by environmental regulations.

“From 2008 to 2013, coal dropped from about 50 percent of U.S. to around 30 percent,” says Harrison Fell, an associate professor of resource economics at NC State and co-lead author of a paper on the work.

“Coal boosters blamed stiffer regulations, calling it a ‘war on coal.’ But that same time period saw a steep drop in the cost of natural gas and an increase in wind . We wanted to know how big a role each of these factors played in driving down the demand for coal.”

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