The Coal Industry May Never Recover From The Pandemic

According to analysts predictions, global coal industry will never recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as the pandemic crisis proves that renewable energy is cheaper for consumers and a safer asset for investors.

The transition from highly polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources is accelerating even during the blockade, which has led to the closure of power plants in several countries and provided new evidence that coal use may finally peak after more for 200 years on stage.

Coal is dying, but renewables are a small part of the reason. Utilities like to tout their new renewables, but they are adding natural gas capacity (CCGTs) at about the same rate as they are retiring coal capacity. The reason for this is that NG prices are extremely low and will almost certainly stay that way for five to ten years, mostly because large amounts of NG are being produced as a byproduct of shale oil  production. This would be happening even if there were no renewables at all. It is driven by economics. The decreased emissions of CO2 are a side effect that the industry pretends is a big reason for the switchover.

Renewables are indeed being added because their costs have declined so much that they are cost-competitive even with this extremely low-cost NG. We can expect renewables to accelerate further when the NG prices begin to rise later in the decade. This will occur as shale oil production declines, either due to field depletion or due to reduced demand for oil. My cloudy crystal ball says that reduced oil demand will affect the higher-cost oil producers first, leaving only the old-fashioned non-gassy conventional fields in production.

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