Coal-fired power generation rose 21 percent in March 2013 compared to March 2012, according to a recent report released from Genscape’s Generation Fuel Monitoring Service. The report links the rise of coal-fired generation to rising prices for natural gas.
The increase of coal-fired power generation made up for a loss in generation from natural gas and renewable energy, the report states. Natural gas-fired power generation dropped 11 percent from March 2012 levels, while renewable energy generation decreased 14 percent in March 2013 as compared to March 2012.
Genscape states that over the past year, gas prices have risen 60 percent, while coal prices have only risen about 2 percent, causing coal-fired generation in March to be 53 percent higher than natural-gas fired generation. Genscape analyst Stephen Maestranzi said “as gas prices have recently reached $4.00/MMBtu, the economics behind fuel switching are dramatically different than last year.”
According to the report, the year-over-year hit in renewable energy was largely driven by weaker hydropower output in the Northwest U.S., where Genscape’s monitors on hydro facilities saw a 36 percent decrease on significant declines in snow water equivalent.
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