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US coal generation falls to 47-year low in April: EIA

Highlights

Coal generation in April lowest in over 47 years

Renewable-generation share higher than coal

Houston — US power generation from coal totaled 60.1 TWh in April, down 23.4% from March and 18.1% lower than the year-ago month, Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.

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The figure was the lowest month in over 47 years, including below the previous record of 62.87 TWh generated from coal in April 1974.

Total US power generation during April was at a two-year low 295.12 TWh, down 8.7% from the prior month and 2.2% lower than the year-ago month. It was the seventh-lowest monthly power generation in the last 15 years.

Power generation is typically lower in April during the shoulder season, due to mild weather and electricity demand. Ten of the last 11 lowest months of US power generation have occurred in April, with the lone exception in February 2017.

Coal made up just 20.4% of the power generation in April, while natural gas generation was at 34.9%, compared with 24.3% of US generation from coal and 34.8% from gas in March. In the year-ago month, coal's power generation share was at 24.3%, while gas was at 33%.

Natural gas generation in April was at a 12-month low 102.94 TWh, down 8.6% from a month earlier but 3.5% higher than the year-ago month. It was the highest power generation from gas in the month of April in over 47 years.

Nuclear generation was at 60.58 TWh in April, down 6.9% from March but up 2.4% from the year-ago month. It was the second-most power generated from nuclear in the month of April since 1973, only behind 62.73 TWh in April 2016. Nuclear made up 20.5% of the generation share in April, up from 20.1% in March and 19.6% in April 2018.

RENEWABLES SURPASS COAL IN APRIL

Generation from renewables, including hydro and solar, was at a record-high 68.48 TWh in April, up 7.2% from March and 2.7% from the year-ago month.

Renewable's power generation share was at 23.2%, up from 18.8% in March and 22.1% a year ago. It was the first time ever that power generation from renewables were higher than coal in a month.

Wind generation was at a record-high 30.22 TWh in April, up 16.1% month on month and 12.9% higher than a year ago. April is typically the windiest month of the year, with an average of 23.34 TWh generated in April since 2014.

Total solar generation, including from solar photovoltaic and solar thermal, was at 6.95 TWh, up 15.4% from a month earlier and up 11.1% from the year-ago month.

Generation from wind and solar made up 10.2% and 2.4% of the total power in April, respectively, up from 8.1% and 1.9% in March, and 2.1% and 8.9% in the year-ago month.

-- Tyler Godwin, tyler.godwin@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com