Coal fired power plants being shutdown

The following article lists all the U.S. coal fired power plants expected to shut or be converted to other fuels over the next couple of decades. The end of coal!


If natural gas is the future that implies lots more drilling and pipelines.

Can we build green energy capacity fast enough?

Interesting that leading states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri are far down the list or missing. Coal is cheap and they plan to continue burning it as long as they can.

Is it really the end of coal? Or is the burning of it simply shifting to other locations around the world? Even as we, the USA, reduce the burning of coal, is the total amount burned around the world going down?

It could be will stop burning it, but ship it instead!


The International Energy Agency recently issued a report indicating that world coal consumption is at an all-time high. There is large demand for the fuel in China and India. Both consume more coal than the US, by a wide margin. The US has also exported a lot of manufacturing and heavy industry to places like China and India. In one sense, we have exported our CO2 emissions overseas, as well.

% % % % % % %

The US has also replaced much coal-fired electricity generation with natural gas. Power production from natural gas will be at, or near, an all-time high this year. But natural gas is also a fossil fuel. It burns somewhat cleaner than coal, but still produces CO2 when burned.

US 2021 CO2 emissions from each of the major fossil fuels
Coal          1003 million metric tons
Natural gas   1655
Petroleum     2234

Natural gas is used for more than just electricity generation. Many homes have natural gas furnaces, ovens and water heaters. Gas is also widely used in industry as a heating source. But, as can be seen from the numbers above, the burning of natural gas produces 65% more CO2 than does coal here in the US. Let’s hope that gas remains cheap and plentiful. With more LNG being exported to Europe (to replace Russian gas), there could be upward price pressures on the fuel.

  • Pete

Maybe not so fast.
U.S. power companies plan to retire or convert from coal to gas over 6,100 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired plants in 2021 after shutting over 13,100 MW in 2020, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Thomson Reuters data.

That compares with almost 15,000 MW shut in 2019 and an all-time high of over 19,300 MW shut in 2015. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

U.S. coal power capacity peaked over 317,600 MW in 2011, according to EIA data. It has declined every year since and was down to about 216,800 MW by the end of 2020. [end quote]

At this rate (about 20,000 megawatts over the last 2 years) the end is in sight but it will take 10 to 20 years.


As long as nat gas and renewables remain cheap, coal and nuclear are dead in USA. Europe is rapidly extracting themselves from Russian nat gas and coal. World consumption of coal has peaked in 2022 according to IEA and will now go into a long slow slide down in the next 10 - 20 years.

The article shows all the coal fired power plants being shutdown in the USA in next 10 to 20 years. It will go even faster IMO…

Look at the estimates for the year2023, 2024 and 2025:

1 Like

The chart shows a very slight increase between now and 2025.

I’d be interested in seeing their charts from previous years to see how well the estimates compare to reality.


Less than 0.2 % - Earth shaking increase - LOL!

I wonder if that’s practicable. Australia has vast coal reserves, and they’re a heck of a lot closer to China and India than we are.

That’s really a very good way to put it. And people say we don’t export enough anymore.

1 Like

When I say “we” (missing word there) it can be read as “the parts of the world that care a lot about global climate change”. If the parts of the world that care a lot about climate change stop using coal, and instead ship it to other countries that don’t care as much, and those countries burn it … then the earth doesn’t really change much, and climate change continues along its merry way.


Out of curiosity, I looked at the top coal importing and exporting countries in BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. The following is a partial list of the leading coal importing and exporting nations, measured in exajoules of energy, for 2021.

Top coal importing countries/regions
S. & Cent. America    1.25 EJ
Europe                4.38
China                 6.54
India                 4.90
Japan                 4.86
S. Korea              3.41
Other Asia Pacific    6.08

Top coal exporting countries
Canada       1.05 EJ
US           2.14
Colombia     1.73
Russia       5.99
S. Africa    1.93
Australia    9.63
Indonesia    8.58

Much of Australia’s exports go to Japan, with smaller amounts going to S. Korea, India, and other Asia-Pacific countries. The Japanese like to think of themselves as being concerned about CO2 emissions, but since they mostly killed off their nuclear power industry, Japan has been importing a lot of coal and oil for power generation.

It should be noted, though, that China is, by far, the leading coal producer and consumer in the world. Half the world’s mined coal is burned in China.

Page 40 of the document, for more complete tables:

  • Pete

“The speed at which projects progressed through permitting to construction in 2022 was extraordinary, with many projects sprouting up, gaining permits, obtaining financing and breaking ground apparently in a matter of months,” said GEM analyst Flora Champenois.

The amount of new capacity connected to the grid had slowed in recent years after a decline in new approvals over the 2017-2020 period, but it is set to rebound over the next few years, driven by concerns about power shortages.



Beijing has been trying to rejuvenate its economy after growth and employment were hit badly by stringent “zero-COVID” measures last year, raising concerns that its low-carbon efforts will be sidelined.

However, renewable power capacity additions have remained at record levels, with solar installations at 87 GW in 2022 and expected to rise further in 2023.

The country aims to bring its climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions to a peak by 2030, but it remains unclear what level they will reach.

1 Like

China approved the construction of another 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity last year…”
% % % % %

To put that in perspective, when those 106 GW are fully operational, that new capacity will produce about 470 million metric tons of CO2 per year. All of the coal-fired power plants in the US produce around 900 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Therefore, this new Chinese coal capacity will produce about half of the CO2 that all of the US coal plants currently emit.

To put it another way, the US could shut down half of its coal-fired power plant capacity, but total CO2 emissions will be about the same because of these 106 GW of new Chinese coal plants. In reality, total emissions would go up because if the US shut down half of its coal plants, many of those generators would need to be replaced with natural gas fired power plants, which would burn just another fossil fuel. Then there are all of the new coal power plants being built in India, Indonesia and several other developing nations.

  • Pete
1 Like

But you are not taking into account the fact that China is shuttering lots of old coal fired power plants. Technically we should look at the total electricity generated by coal in 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile renwables are doing very well in China:

China’s thermal power generation, including coal and gas, capacity grew by around 35 GW or 2.7% in 2022, compared with around 145 GW or more than 14% growth, in renewables capacity (solar, wind and hydro), official data showed.

China will add approximately 45-50 GW of coal-fired generation capacity in 2023, and around 200 GW of renewable capacity, according to Caroline Zhu, senior analyst with S&P Global Commodity Insights. In recent years, China accounted for roughly 44% of additional global renewable capacity and more than 73% of Asia’s renewables capacity addition, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023.

China to maintain renewables growth pace in 2023 despite uncertainty | S&P Global Commodity Insights)%2C%20official%20data%20showed.