GenerationHub: Firm reports surge in January 2013 coal-fired generation

Admin note: This article looks at the recent (and significant) jump in coal-fueled generation. It was originally published on and is reprinted with permission.

By Wayne Barber


Nationally, coal-fired generation was up 8.9% in January 2013 compared to January 2012 levels, according to data from Genscape.

A number of industry observers have said that while coal power sank to its lowest market share it years during 2012, it should do better in 2013. The early Genscape figures appear to lend credence to that theory.

The January 2013 increase to 140,080 GWh resulted from higher demand for electricity, higher gas prices, and lower levels of generation from nuclear plants and renewable technologies, the research firm said.

Power demand started out 2013 up 3.2% to 350,554 GWh versus January 2012 levels. The primary driver of the increase was the late January cold-snap experienced the week of Jan. 21st, Genscape said. Overall the weather pattern averaged out to slightly warmer than average for the month, but the cold snap at the end of the month featured temperatures that were as much as 20 degrees colder than average in some areas.

Both coal and gas-fired generation supplied the additional power needed for this increased demand with gas increasing its output by 1.7% over January 2012 levels to 94,396 GWh. Coal and gas had equal power sector output levels in April of last year. Coal has since recovered ground and accounted for 40% of power sector output in January while gas captured 27% of the market.

Nuclear output had a down month – decreasing nearly 2% from 2012 – with the DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) Fermi plant in Michigan continuing to run at a de-rate and an unplanned 6 day outage at FirstEnergy’s (NYSE: FE) Perry unit in Ohio, Genscape said. “Higher gas prices are the final factor helping to push up coal’s share of the total market,” Genscape said.


About the Author: Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst, Power Generation, has been covering energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

20. February 2013 by Jason Hayes
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