Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

US power generators retain huge appetite for coal

Coal production
Coal production

US electric power generators consumed 740 million tons of coal in 2015, fuelling about one-third of total electric power generation and accounting for 92% of all coal consumed in the country, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration.

Nearly 70% of all coal used by power plants to generate electricity was shipped either completely or in part by rail. The rest was transported by waterway, truck, or—for power plants located near a coal mine—by conveyor.

The distribution of coal transit modes varies from year to year.

Factors that can affect both the amount and type of coal used by power plants include the adjustment of coal requirements by plant operators, the installation of flue gas desulfurisation units that widens the range of coals a plant is able to burn, and changes in regional coal prices.

Although coal consumption in the electric power sector decreased 18% from 2008 (when U.S. coal production peaked) to 2014, the share of coal shipments made either exclusively or in part by rail has remained near 70%.

Over this same period, the share of coal shipments made by river barge increased from 7% to 12%.

This increase in barge traffic coincides with the growth of coal produced in the Illinois Basin, which relies on shipments along the Ohio River and its tributaries for a significant portion of its production.

Shipments made by nonriver barge waterways, slurry pipeline, tidewater piers, and coastal ports (labeled as other modes in the graph above) fell from 7% to 1%.

Decreases in coal transportation by these modes can be attributed to increases in the transport costs of these methods, as well as the retirement of many generating facilities that received coal by these methods.

The cost of transporting coal can vary greatly along different routes.

Factors affecting coal transport costs include route length, availability of transport mode and supply source options, and the competition between coal and other commodities for transport.

The EIA’s updated summary of coal transportation rates through 2014 shows the average real costs per ton of transporting coal from mines to power plants, as well as transport costs from basin to state and state to state for each transport mode, based on data reported by plant owners and operators to EIA on the Power Plant Operations Report.

Recommended for you

More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts