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Coal generation slashed by almost a 5th YOY in August

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August

Coal generation slashed by almost a 5th YOY in August

U.S. generation powered by natural gas and renewables increased in August, while coal-fired power production continued its downward trend.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest "Electric Power Monthly" released Oct. 24, utility-scale generation net of hydroelectric pumped storage fell 1.5% year over year in August to 401.9 million MWh.

Natural gas climbed 9.2% to 176.5 million MWh, accounting for 43.9% of the net total. Coal-fired generation declined 18.2% versus the prior-year period to 94.2 million MWh, equivalent to 23.4% of the nation's electricity.

Renewable output climbed 1.1% year over year to 55.2 million MWh as growth among renewable resources was mixed. Conventional hydro declined 5.6%, while solar and other renewable increase 17.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

Year-to-date through August, utility-scale generation declined 1.7% to 2.79 billion MWh, with coal supplying 23.9% of the nation's power and natural gas supplying 37.7%. So far, renewable generation has supplied 17.7% of the nation's power, compared with 17.3% a year earlier.

Over the same period, coal-fired generation declined 13.9% year over year to 665.3 million MWh, while gas-fired generation climbed 6.5% to 1.05 billion MWh. Renewable generation grew 0.7% to 494.4 million MWh.

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Power-sector coal stockpiles fell by 372,000 tons during the month, below the 10-year average draw of 5.8 million tons. During the prior 10 years, August stockpile fluctuations versus the prior month have ranged from a draw of 9.5 million tons to a draw of 2.0 million tons.

The EIA estimated that the August stockpile level of 110.6 million tons translates to 105 days of burn and 74 days of burn, respectively, for bituminous and subbituminous coal, 26.8% and 3.6% above the five-year averages for the month.

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