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Sure, we all know the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on a lot of industries but one, in particular, happens to be the coal industry. According to The Guardian, industry observers predict that global coal as a whole will not be able to get back to where it once was even after all of this chaos dies down. 

You see, a report that came out in recent times by the US Energy Information Administrations has shown that it’s likely the US would end up producing more electricity this year from renewable resources than from coal, this being a first. It was also noted that US coal generation would in the coming months fall by almost 25 percent and that as noted above it may not be able to recover like it normally would. While that might not sound like much, it could be the beginning of something big. 

The EIA wrote as follows on this report:

“Although EIA expects renewable energy to be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020, the effects the economic slowdown related to COVID-19 are likely to affect new generating capacity builds during the next few months. EIA expects the electric power sector will add 20.4 gigawatts of new wind capacity and 12.7 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020. However, these forecasts are subject to a high degree of uncertainty, and EIA will continue to monitor reported planned capacity builds.

EIA forecasts U.S. average coal consumption will decrease by 23% to 453 MMst in 2020. The decrease is primarily driven by a 24% decline in electric power sector consumption and persistently low natural gas prices. In 2021, consumption is expected to increase by 10% to 498 MMst because of stronger natural gas prices and an overall economic recovery that results in rising electricity generation.

After decreasing by 2.8% in 2019, EIA forecasts that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissons will decrease by 11% (572 million metric tons) in 2020. This record decline is the result of restrictions on business and travel activity and slowing economic growth related to COVID-19. CO2 emissions decline from all fossil fuels, particularly coal (23%) and petroleum (11%). In 2021, EIA forecasts that energy-related CO2 emissions will increase by 5% as the economy recovers and stay-at-home orders are lifted. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, energy prices, and fuel mix.”

While cutting coal out completely would make a huge difference in the world as a whole, we’re not quite there yet but this is a big step towards something good. Do you think these predictions will play out as expected? At the end of the day, we’ve been clinging to coal for a long time.