US EIA expects 90 GW of coal-fired power plants to retire by 2030

4 Dec 2019

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US coal-fired power capacity fell by around 60 GW between 2011 and 2017 as a result of power plant retirements, which were due to high operating and maintenance costs. Sustained relatively low gas prices have made coal-fired power plants less competitive and less used, reducing revenues and operating margins for their operators, prompting them to retire these coal-fired units. A study led by the EIA highlights that coal-fired power plants with the lowest variable operating and maintenance costs have higher capacity factors (59% in 2017) than the coal fleet average (54%) and than the highest cost group (47%).

The EIA expects this trend to continue and more coal-fired power plants to retire within the next decade. Under its AEO Reference case projections, nearly 90 GW of coal-fired power capacity should retire between 2019 and 2030. Two thirds of the units in the highest operating cost group will retire over this period, compared with 36% in the lowest cost group.

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