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The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday, forecasting that coal’s share of U.S. electric generation will rise to 24% in 2021, after falling to 20% in 2020 amid ongoing plant closures. In its prior STEO report, released in September, EIA forecast a smaller rebound for coal, to 22% in 2021.
The increase in forecasted coal generation for 2021 comes with an increase in forecasted energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. EIA previously expected those emissions to rise 4.8% in 2021, after projecting a 10% drop in 2020, due to decreased energy use in the commercial and industrial sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, EIA expects energy-related carbon emissions to increase 5.4% in 2021.
EIA sees higher CO2 emissions in 2021 “as the economy recovers and energy use increases.” It also expects a 19% increase in coal production in 2021 compared to 2020, “reflecting rising demand for coal from U.S. electricity generators because of higher natural gas prices compared with 2020.”