Cheap natural gas and social pressure to reduce carbon emissions give gas-fired power plants and renewable energy resources a competitive advantage over traditional coal and nuclear generation. Energy storage continues to gain traction as costs decrease and technology evolves.
The more things change, the more they stay the same—at least that's how it's been for the U.S. power industry in recent years. Coal-fired generation has been decreasing while natural gas-fired generation and renewable energy continue to gain market share (Figure 1). The news is not likely to surprise anyone who has been following electricity sector trends, but there are some potentially interesting developments that could give folks in the coal sector a little hope in the near-term.