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Coal's Future Looks Uncertain as Rival Fuels Grow

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  • Jonas C. Crews
  • Charles S. Gascon

Abstract

The U.S. energy sector has been turned on its head over the past two decades. Developments in fracking have led to natural gas?s unseating coal in electricity production. U.S. oil production has almost doubled, wind and solar are now the cheapest producers of electricity in some areas of the U.S. even before tax credits, and ethanol refinement has changed both energy and corn markets. At the same time, significant moves in energy efficiency have mitigated the growth in U.S. electricity demand. This scenario was anticipated by very few. If new trends in electricity production continue, coal power plants may eventually become obsolete. But if the energy sector has taught us anything, it?s that we can?t rely on trends. New technologies are constantly reshaping our existing industries, and the coal industry could be no different.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonas C. Crews & Charles S. Gascon, 2017. "Coal's Future Looks Uncertain as Rival Fuels Grow," The Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 25(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlre:00158
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