Friday, April 18, 2014

Colder weather, rising natural gas prices led to a resurgence in winter demand for coal

A brutal winter and rising natural gas prices led to a resurgence in the coal market, Sean Cockerham reports for McClatchy Newspapers. U.S. coal use increased 4 percent last year and is expected to keep rising this year. International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in the agency’s most recent coal market report: “Like it or not, coal is here to stay for a long time to come. Coal is abundant and geopolitically secure, and coal-fired plants are easily integrated into existing power systems.”

Natural gas prices more than doubled "over the past two years in response to a tighter market," opening the door for coal to regain popularity, Cockerham writes. That led to the use of natural gas for power generation dropping in 2013 for the first time in five years. "The Arctic blasts of this year’s winter also pushed power plants to turn to coal in order to meet the nation’s record-setting heating requirements."

Read more here:\

"There’s serious doubt whether the resurgence in coal can last in America with stricter environmental rules coming. But the global outlook for coal is bright, and U.S. coal producers hope to take advantage by increasing exports to other countries hungry for cheap energy. The IEA believes coal will be the No. 1 fuel for meeting the worldwide increase in energy demand."

Illinois, Indiana and Western Kentucky have benefited from the increased demand for coal, with those areas producing 50 percent more than a decade ago, Cockerham writes. Montana and Wyoming have also fared well, but Central Appalachia, especially Eastern Kentucky, continues to struggle. (Read more)

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