- Coal will exceed natural gas' share of generation this winter, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but it is not a trend expected to last beyond the coldest months.
- Data in its recent Short-Term Energy Outlook show total U.S. electricity generation from utility-scale plants averaged 11,172 GWh/day in 2015, with growth of 0.2% expected this year and 0.7% growth expected in 2017.
- While gas has recently topped coal generation, and is expected to for full-year 2017, EIA data show the trend will reverse course from November 2016 thru April 2017.
EIA said it anticipates natural gas will produce 34% of the United States' generation this year, compared with 30% from coal. Those numbers will tighten slightly next year, to 33% and 31% respectively, but the overall trend is for natural gas to produce more power. But at least during the winter, coal will still be king.
“While more U.S. electricity is expected to be generated from coal than natural gas this winter, the share of total annual generation from natural gas is forecast to exceed coal during 2016 and 2017," EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said in a statement. EIA has previously said it expects coal generation to rise next year.
In October of this year, for instance, EIA data show gas generated 3,197 thousand MWh/day versus 3,032 thousand MWh/day for coal. EIA said those numbers likely flipped last month, and by January, coal will produce 3,889 thousand MWh/day to gas' 3,129 thousand MWh/day.
Natural gas marketed production is expected to average 77.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) this year, a 1.3 Bcf/d decline from 2015 levels. According to the agency, it would "be the first annual production decline since 2005."
Next year, however, EIA said forecast natural gas production increases by an average of 2.5 Bcf/d from the 2016 level.
Prices are also expected to rise due to growing domestic gas consumption and higher pipeline exports to Mexico and liquefied natural gas exports. According to EIA, Henry Hub natural gas spot prices will rise from an average of $2.49 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2016 to $3.27/MMBtu in 2017.