Friday, March 2, 2012

Stunning Fact: 331 Coal Units Announced Closing Since January 2010

Keeping track of the number of coal plants and coal units that are closing is not easy.  This blog published in 2011 the Edison Electric Institute's list of coal plant closings at that time.  Yesterday, Stephen Lacey wrote that the owners of 106 coal plants, with 331 coal units at them, had announced that they would retire or have retired since January 2010.  The plants represent 42,895 megawatts or 13% of the coal fleet.

Other data in the post includes that the retiring plants on average are 55 years old and that they represent 8% of the electricity produced by coal plants or considerably less than the 13% capacity share of the retiring coal plants. The 8% of the electricity produced by coal plants that is retiring represents about 3.3% of all electricity generated from all sources. The retiring plants also account for 9% of the carbon dioxide coming from all coal plants.

It should also be noted that America builds typically 15,000 to 20,000 megawatts of new generation every year.  The closings do not pose any threat to grid reliability.

This data also confirms that the plants retiring are the ones already not operating much, because they are unable to compete for dispatch in competitive markets, during periods of low and moderate demand, which is most of the time.

Lacey's post is based on information from Bruce Niles who is the director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

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