American power plants will burn 16% more coal in 2021 than they did in 2020. In 2022, production is expected to jump an additional 3%, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Even with these increases, the US will not reach 2019’s consumption levels of 538.6 billion tons. In 2022, US coal-burning is projected to hit 517.2 billion tons.
The increase in US coal demand comes from an increase in the price of natural gas.
“All of that installed capacity doesn’t go away overnight,” said Dennis Wamsted, an analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The world’s biggest coal producer, Coal India, said it will spend $6 billion on new and expanded mining projects.
“There are climate-change issues about coal, but India’s energy needs won’t allow it to dump the fuel instantly,” said Binay Dayal, Coal India’s technical director.
The world’s largest coal consumer, China, burns nearly 52% of the world’s coal. India and the United States trail at a distant second and third, with 11.8% and 7.2% of the world’s share, respectively.
The US, China and India will enter this year’s international climate change talks—which some hoped would lead to more radical anti-energy proposals—while moving farther away from the Paris Climate Accord’s carbon-neutral goal.
“We’re going to see a really marked increase in emissions,” said Amanda Levin, policy analyst at the National Resources Defense Council.
Levin said Biden’s green policies, which may be included in the green infrastructure bill, “could actually” cause “changes pretty quickly.”