While the shale gas revolution has benefited many, the influx of low-cost natural gas has done just the opposite to the coal industry.
Coal producers are currently being pushed out of the market by a number of forces. The large part of this energy transition, however, is the result of simple economics. Natural gas is becoming more and more cost-competitive, forcing coal out of the fuel mix.
According to the EIA, 2016 was the first year in which natural gas electricity generation exceeded that of coal on an annual basis. Last year 34% of the nation’s electricity came from natural gas power plants, the largest percentage on record. When you combine cheap natural gas prices, the fact that natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, and government-imposed environmental actions against coal, the result is that demand for coal went south and coal production has subsequently fallen by nearly 40% from its peak in 2011.
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This decline has led coal producers to seek other uses for their product, something the coal-dependent state of Wyoming is supporting with cash in the form of grants.
Wyoming’s State Loan and Investment Board recently approved a $1.5 million grant to Campbell County, the heart of Wyoming coal country. The grant will fund the construction of the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center. The ACPIC will be a location for companies to research new uses for coal, allowing producers to continue operating despite the transition away from coal power.
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Source: Oil & Gas 360