The U.S. is on track this year to “easily exceed” a previous annual record of 14.7 gigawatts in coal retirements, dropping 15.4 gigawatts of capacity, according to a recent report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The research organization expects this retirement trend to continue in coming years, according to data compiled using sources such as corporate announcements, integrated resource plans and news reports. The current U.S. coal fleet still sits at about 246 gigawatts of capacity. But retirements forecasted at 36.7 gigawatts from the beginning of 2018 through 2024 will reduce that capacity by 15 percent.
IEEFA notes that federal or state policy changes, like the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, could influence closures. But the report also reiterates that policy is not the main driver behind retirements. Economics will push “sizeable” retirements in 14 states including Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and West Virginia.
“Some of these closures may shift calendar years,” said Seth Feaster, an IEEFA data analyst and author of the report. “But that won’t affect the overall figures.”
According to Feaster, the 36.7 figure is “very conservative.”