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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: Oct. 13, 2021  |  Forecast Completed: Oct. 7, 2021  |  Next Release Date: Nov. 9, 2021  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Coal

  • Coal production in our forecast totals 588 million short tons (MMst) in 2021, 53 MMst more than in 2020. We expect demand for coal from the electric power sector to increase by 84 MMst in 2021. Production growth is unlikely to match the increases in demand in the near term due to many coal mines operating at a reduced capacity and limited available transportation. In 2022, we expect coal production to increase by 34 MMst to 622 MMst, as the production and transportation constraints experienced in 2021 ease. Secondary inventories of coal at electric utilities decreased in the first half of 2021, and we forecast this trend will continue into the second half of 2021 and 2022.
  • Electricity generation from coal-fired power plants has not increased as much in response to rising natural gas prices as it has in the past, or by as much as our models forecasted in recent STEOs. The lower price responsiveness of coal for electricity generation, which is likely the result of constraints on coal supply and low coal stocks, is contributing to upward pressure on natural gas prices. To reflect the lower price responsiveness of coal-fired electricity generation, we have lowered our forecast for U.S. coal generation for the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first half of 2022 by an average of 7 billion kWh (9%) each month, and we have raised our forecast for natural gas generation 5 billion kWh (5%) each month.

U.S. coal production

U.S. coal consumption

U.S. Coal Summary
  2019202020212022
Prices (dollars per million Btu)
Electric Power Sector 2.021.921.972.01
Supply (million short tons)
U.S. Coal Production 706.3535.3588.2622.1
Imports 6.75.15.04.0
Exports 93.869.192.694.8
Consumption (million short tons)
Electric Power Sector 538.6436.5520.9492.0
Other Sectors 47.940.846.548.4
Total Consumption 586.5477.3567.4540.4
End of Period Inventories (million short tons)
Electric Power Sector 128.2132.773.262.2
Total Inventories 165.3161.1104.2102.5

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Related Figures
U.S. coal production XLSX PNG
U.S. coal consumption XLSX PNG
U.S. electric power sector coal stocks XLSX PNG
U.S. electricity generation by fuel, all sectors XLSX PNG
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth XLSX PNG
U.S. summer cooling degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. winter heating degree days XLSX PNG
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