Coal Uptick Seen Lasting Into 2022

The uptick in the use of coal by electric generating plants that occurred this year is expected to continue into 2022, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The magazine noted that the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects coal production this year to rise by 6 percent to 612 million short tons. That is an increase of 33 million short tons over 2021.

Industry observers have attributed the increased use of coal to rising natural gas prices and supply chain shortages of gas.

One challenge power plants face, though, is fewer coal suppliers due to decreases in mining capacity.

The coal mining industry has been going through a transformation that has included mergers, sales of properties, and financial difficulties triggered by the decline of the use of coal.

The Trains analysis concluded that coal companies are more likely to increase production at existing mines than to reopen closed facilities to meet the increased demand.

This is expected to result in a nominal increase in the number of coal trains and Trains said no specific railroad or power plant is expected to benefit exclusively although most of the added production is expected to originate in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

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