This has been the year from hell for coal-fired power and the coal industry. If current projections hold, coal generation in 2020 will be 21% lower than last year and 62% lower than the 2007 peak. The coal share of the generating mix, which for decades hovered around 50%, will finish the year at 20%, the lowest on record. Coal production will be the lowest since 1964 and down by a quarter just from 2019.
The new year may bring relief. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) projects that coal generation will recover most of its 2020 losses in 2021, bringing some stability to coal plant operators and coal miners.