In this week's Market Movers Americas, presented by Americas Low Carbon Gas Editor Keri Burke:
- US HRC spot market activity cools for year-end (00:19)
- EIA predicts US coal capacity will shrink 28% by 2035(01:00)
- New England gas, power prices rise on colder weather (02:00)
In this week's Market Movers: The Energy Information Administration predicts US coal capacity will fall, the hot-rolled coil market slows as 2021 comes to an end, and cooler weather in New England is expected to affect power demand and gas prices.
Starting with metals, spot buying activity in the US hot-rolled coil market is expected to remain limited through the end of the year, although market sources expect demand to be robust in 2022, despite the current seasonal hiatus. Since the start of December, US hot-rolled coil prices have fallen by more than $100/st due to limited buying activity as the end of the year approaches. We've been told that the drop in prices is not necessarily a sign of weakness in the market, but rather a rebalance of supply and demand, as lead times and prices have retreated from historic highs.
In the coal sector, even though coal-fired power plants don't have a mandatory retirement age, 28% of current capacity is projected to go offline by 2035, according to the EIA. The planned retirements, which are self-reported to the EIA by power plant owners and operators, will reduce coal-fired capacity by about 59 gigawatts. The average active coal-fired generating unit in the US is 45 years old, with some of the retiring units built as recently as the 1990s. The EIA projects the number of coal plants planning to retire between now and 2035 will likely increase amid pressure from clean energy standards.
This brings us to our social media question of the week: Given the ever-growing focus on methane emissions in the US, what approach will companies take to curb their emissions in 2022? Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag PlattsMM.
Power demand in New England is forecast to increase this holiday week as temperatures drop to lows around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. After a stretch of unseasonably warm weather last week, when temperatures broke above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, cooler weather expected from Monday to Thursday has pushed the ISO-New England power demand forecast above 17,000 megawatts heading into Christmas Eve. Mass Hub on-peak day-ahead power prices for December 20 delivery traded in the upper $220/MWh on ICE, a more than fourfold jump day on day. On-peak balance of the week for Tuesday through Thursday traded in the upper $170/MWh. With gas-fired generation typically the dominant source of electricity in New England, colder weather has also spiked spot natural gas prices. New England gas demand benchmark Algonquin city-gates jumped about $25 in ICE trading on Friday to nearly $30/ MMBtu, which was the location's highest peak since January 2018. The benchmark's balance-of-the-month contract also jumped to trade just above $24/MMBtu, suggesting that the market expects the region's elevated demand to continue through the end of the month. ISO-New England expects winter power demand will peak at nearly 20,000 MW during average weather conditions of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and more than 20,000 MW if colder weather occurs.
The Platts Atlas of Energy Transition is your map to the sustainable commodity markets of the future. You can explore the Atlas by visiting the address displayed on your screen. That's it for Platts Market Movers Americas for 2021. We'll be back on January 10. Thanks for tuning in this year and we look forward to seeing you again in 2022.