The US energy mix is dominated by fossil fuels, and is becoming increasingly reliant on nuclear energy, according to new data released by the Energy Information Administration.
The data showed the US had the second-highest total of coal-fired power plants and the second highest percentage of coal power generation in the country.
The US has the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita and the lowest percentage of carbon-free electricity generation, according the EIA.
The agency said its new analysis showed that the US was “unlikely to meet the Paris climate targets unless emissions continue to fall and demand increases”.
US coal plants The agency looked at the number of coal plants operating in the United States, the size of each plant, the coal capacity and the total number of power plants in the system.
It calculated how many megawatts of coal electricity were in the national grid and what that power generated.
It then compared those power plants to other US states and to neighbouring states.
It also calculated how much electricity was being used for the electricity grid, including for transmission and distribution.
The average US coal plant generates about 12.5 gigawatts of electricity.
The EIA also found that US coal production in 2015 was the lowest since it started recording data in the 1950s.
“The US coal industry has experienced a massive decline over the last 50 years and, with coal production declining at an alarming rate, it is likely that many more plants are on the way to the end of their useful life,” said Chris Sinkin, a research analyst at EIA and lead author of the report.
The energy mix has changed dramatically over the past 40 years.
In the early 1970s, the US produced about 50% of the world’s coal and had an average capacity of roughly 4.3 gigawatts.
By the end in 2010, the figure had fallen to 1.6 gigawatts and by 2030 it was less than 0.3% of total electricity generated.
The power plants are now generating more power than they were in 1995.
The most recent data is for March of 2020, which is almost 10 years after the last full year of data.
Sinkins report, titled The United States Energy Mix: Energy Source and Use, also shows that US demand for electricity has been on the decline, even as energy consumption has been growing.
The report notes that US energy consumption in 2020 was about 3.7% lower than in 2016, while demand for energy increased by 2.6% from 2016 to 2020.
Sinks report found that as US demand has declined, electricity generation has also declined.
US coal output peaked in 2015 at nearly 15 gigawatts, but is now producing about 1.7 gigawatts per year.
The electricity sector is not the only sector that is suffering from the declining demand for power.
Suckin said the energy mix in the energy sector is also changing.
“Energy use in the electricity sector has been increasing and is likely to continue to increase over the next decade, particularly for small and medium-sized producers,” he said.
“Coal is an important part of the energy supply mix in many states and in many regions.”
More to come…