Coal interests see Europe’s crisis-driven reversion to coal as a “wakeup call” to the U.S., arguing that it should better value the fuel in order to avoid the high energy prices afflicting allies in the region.
“It’s certainly a message to the United States as well that we need to prioritize all of our domestic fuels, including coal, to get through this and to preserve national security,” Rich Nolan, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, told Jeremy.
Overall market conditions do not favor coal over the long term, to say the least. Power generators have retired 48 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity over the last five years, and the Energy Information Administration estimated that coal retirements will make up 85% of capacity retirements this year.
Those retirements have been partially blamed for the shortage of reserve generating capacity among midwestern power generators, which put the region at a higher risk for blackouts this summer.
At the same time, coal-fired power as a share of generation rose last year to 23%. EIA primarily attributes this to higher natural gas prices — prices that have been significantly higher this year than last, making conditions even more favorable to coal for now.
US coal to Europe: Europe’s embargo on Russia coal, scheduled to be fully effective in August, is sending it looking for alternative sources, and U.S. exports have increased.
Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands saw some of the largest year-over-year increases in U.S. coal imports. More than half of the U.S. thermal coal sent to Europe in April was bound for the Netherlands and Germany, according to data collected by Argus.
A look at prices: Spot prices for thermal coal have ballooned over the last eight months. Central Appalachia coal was worth $71.05 per short ton during the week ending Sep. 17. It’s now at $138.80.
Illinois Basin coal has more than tripled in value, going from $36.25 per short ton to $126.00.
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- On June 30, 2022