According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal-fired power plants in the United States will experience a capacity decline of over 50% from 2022 levels by 2050, due to the rising costs of complying with environmental regulations and the displacement of older coal plants by newer ones powered by natural gas and renewable energy, as reported by Reuters on May 11. The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2023 presents three scenarios with varying costs of zero-carbon technology, which predict a decline in coal-fired electric-generating capacity of between 52% and 88%, to between 97 GW and 23 GW by mid-century. The EIA’s projections suggest that solar and wind energy capacity will more than triple by 2050, accounting for between 40% and 69% of U.S. electricity generation. Coal is expected to provide between 1% and 8% of electricity in 2050, as it has the ability to operate continuously without depending on sunlight or wind availability.
The Biden administration recently announced a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. power industry, which is one of the most significant steps taken so far in its efforts to decarbonize the economy and combat climate change. The EIA’s projections do not factor in this new proposal, which would limit the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants, and require those operating after 2040 to install carbon capture and storage technology beginning in 2030. Plants that shut down between 2035 and 2040 would need to co-fire with 40% gas by 2030.