“In the United States, coal is still moving, but its reign is over”

Coal-fired power station in Utah, November 14, 2019.

Losses and profits. President-elect Joe Biden will he fulfill the dream of incumbent President Donald Trump: relaunching coal in the United States? It would be astounding from a man who got himself elected on a program to exit fossil fuels when his opponent, a notorious climate skeptic, militates in favor of the “black mouths”. Moreover, the inhabitants of Wyoming, the first producing state of this mineral, were not mistaken, by voting 70% for Donald Trump on November 3.

And yet, according to the latest note from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), dated November 10, coal production in the United States is expected to increase by 20% in 2021, to 627 million tons. Suddenly, its share in electricity production should drop from 20% in 2020 to 25% next year. He was said to be dead, but the coal is still moving.

This spectacular trend reversal is believed to be due to the increase in gas prices, due to the reduction in drilling, and the anticipation of an economic recovery after the pandemic. Joe Biden would have been well without this counter-publicity, when his program foresees the elimination of coal in the production of electricity by 2035. In fact, despite the efforts of Donald Trump, the share of this mineral ‘has stopped decreasing, its production still falling by 26% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Stopping orders

The respite should therefore only be short-lived for large producers, like Peabody, the first of them, who announced, Monday, November 9, that he was on the verge of bankruptcy. It must be said that the pressure of opinions and governments is pushing for the abandonment of this cheap fuel.

The reign of “King Coal” is over. The main manufacturers of coal-fired power stations are abandoning this sector one after another. The latest, Toshiba, one of the major global players in the sector, which announced Wednesday, November 11 that it was stopping taking orders in this area to strengthen itself in renewable energies. Siemens and General Electric have also taken similar decisions in recent weeks.

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They all want to be part of the party, that of the $ 2 trillion stimulus plan, largely focused on renewable energies, that the future American president intends to have adopted as soon as he takes office in January 2021. Not to mention the Stock Exchange which, it also, has already voted. In October, the market capitalization of NextEra Energy, the largest US producer of renewable electricity, surpassed that of oil giant Exxon, which ten years ago was still the highest valued company in the world.


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