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Environmental issue

‘War on Coal’ Didn’t Cause Coal Industry Collapse

Large reductions in the use of coal for power generation over the past decade were caused largely by less expensive natural gas and the availability of wind energy – and not by environmental regulations, said a study from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Raleigh, NC, United States (4E) – Large reductions in using coal for energy technology over the previous decade had been brought about largely by cheaper pure gasoline and the provision of wind power – and never by environmental rules, stated a research from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado Boulder.

“From 2008 to 2013, coal dropped from about 50 percent of U.S. power generation to around 30 percent,” in response to Harrison Fell, an affiliate professor of useful resource economics at NC State and research co-lead creator.

“Coal boosters blamed stiffer regulations, calling it a ‘war on coal.’ But that same time period saw a steep drop in the cost of natural gas and an increase in wind generation. We wanted to know how big a role each of these factors played in driving down the demand for coal.”

To reply this query, researchers checked out how a lot of their each day energy technology capability coal crops had been utilizing in 4 energy transmission areas from the beginning of 2008 to the top of 2013. The 4 energy areas — the Electric Reliability Corporation of Texas (ERCOT), the Southwest Power Pool, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator and PJM Interconnection (PJM) — span throughout greater than 20 states.

Consistent with nationwide declines, coal crops in all 4 areas used far much less of their energy capability in 2013 than in 2008. Similarly, the worth of pure gasoline dropped in all 4 areas, and the quantity of obtainable wind energy elevated.

Researchers then created a mannequin that accounted for an array of variables, comparable to each day energy demand. They then used the mannequin to see how energy use would have modified in 2008 if gasoline had been out there at 2013 costs and wind energy had been out there at 2013 ranges.

“This work uses the observed data — capacity factors, fuel prices, power demand and so on — to make predictions about how capacity factors are affected by different variables,” stated Fell. “In short, we can get a good idea of what influences the extent to which we use coal power generation.”

Researchers discovered that coal energy use would have dropped considerably in comparison with what was noticed in 2008 if, in 2008, pure gasoline had been out there at 2013 costs and wind energy had been out there at 2013 ranges. These predicted “counterfactual” 2008 capability usages had been just like noticed 2013 capability usages. This suggests the so-called “war on coal” rules weren’t the driving force of the coal technology decline over this era.

“If the ‘war on coal’ was what drove down power generation, our econometric models would not have predicted a drop in coal use caused by changes in gas and wind,” stated Fell. “But they did. It looks like the changes in coal power production were actually driven largely by capitalism.”

The paper, “The Fall of Coal: Joint Impacts of Fuel Prices and Renewables on Generation and Emissions,” was printed on-line within the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Co-lead creator of the paper is Daniel Kaffine of CU-Boulder.

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