By - Jim Vess

Electricity demand to be down this summer, coal’s share expected to drop, EIA says

Energize Weekly, May 15, 2019

Summer electricity generation in 2019 is forecast to be down 2 percent from last summer to 1,168 million megawatt-hours (MWh) with a sharp drop in how much of that power is provided by coal-fired plants.

The energy mix for the summer highlights the ongoing shift in the generating portfolio with coal dropping 3 percent since last year to a quarter of all generation and natural gas rising 1 percent to 40 percent of all generation—making it the largest single generating source.

Total renewable energy generation will increase 1 percent from last summer to 16 percent of overall generation this coming summer, according to the federal Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-term Energy Outlook.

Nuclear power’s share will remain unchanged at 18 percent of all generation.

On a MWh basis, coal-fired generation will drop 13 percent from last summer to 289 MWh this summer.

The role of coal varies by region with coal-fired plants generating 49 percent of the electricity in the Midwest last summer. It is expected to contribute 45 percent of the electricity for the region this year. The Southeast will have the second largest share of coal-fired power, accounting for 23 percent of the generation this summer.

The Northeast has the lowest exposure to coal with 6 percent of the electricity this year compared with 9 percent in the summer of 2018.

By contrast, the Northeast will have more nuclear energy generation than any other region, with it providing 31 percent of the electricity, down from 33 percent in the summer of 2018.

“EIA forecasts that share will decrease to 31 percent in 2019 as a result of the retirements of the Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey and the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts,” the agency said.

The Southeast is most heavily dependent on natural gas, which will provide 49 percent of its electricity this summer, up 2 percent from last summer.

The renewable generation is split between hydropower and non-hydro resources, which include wind, biomass, geothermal and utility-scale solar.

Hydro generation is forecast to provide 7 percent of total generation in summer 2019. Non-hydro generation has been steadily rising from 6 percent in 2015 to 9 percent this summer.

The West had the biggest share of renewable generation in 2018 with non-hydro providing 15 percent of the region’s electricity and hydro accounting for 22 percent. For this summer, non-hydro is projected to increase to 17 percent and hydro to remain at 22 percent.

On an annual basis, wind is expected to overtake hydro as the largest single renewable energy source at 8 percent of the national generation total compared with 7 percent for hydro.

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