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EIA: U.S. Coal-Fired Generation to Continue Declining for Forseeable Future; Clean Energy to Grow

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According to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal demand in this country is falling sharply, as clean energy and natural gas take its place.

Total U.S. carloads of coal by rail during the first quarter of 2012 fell to 1.55 million carloads, the lowest level for any quarter since the beginning of 1994, as demand for coal by the U.S. electricity sector decreased.

In addition, according to  EIA dataelectric power sector consumption of coal has fallen from 20.8 quadrillion Btu in 2007 to 18.2 quadrillion Btu in 2011. Note that during the same time period, renewable power generation increased from 3.3 quadrillion Btu to 4.9 quadrillion, a gain of nearly 50% in just 4 years.
Finally, EIA's  Annual Energy Outlook 2012 Early Release predicts that this trend is highly likely to continue in coming decades:

In recent years, the U.S. electric power sector’s historical reliance on coal-fired power plants has begun to decline. Over the next 25 years, the projected coal share of overall electricity generation falls to 39 percent, well below the 49-percent share seen as recently as 2007...because of slow growth in electricity demand, continued competition from natural gas and renewable plants, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations.

In sum, according to EIA, it looks like coal-fired power generation is on the way out in the US, renewables (and also natural gas) are on the way in.