Advanced Turbine Technology Leads to 103 U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants Replaced or Converted to Natural Gas

Aug 17, 2020


The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has followed the conversion or replacement of 121 coal-fired power plants from 2011-2019. According to EIA, “at the end of 2010, 316.8 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity existed in the United States, but by the end of 2019, 49.2 GW of that amount was retired, 14.3 GW had the boiler converted to burn natural gas, and 15.3 GW was replaced with natural gas combined cycle.” EIA reports that the transition was fueled by stricter emission standards, lower natural gas prices, and advances in natural gas turbine technology.


Conversion from coal to natural gas was achieved through two different methods. The first is simply replacing coal-fired plants with new natural gas-fired combined-cycle (NGCC) plants. NGCC plants have the ability to generate 94% more GW than the coal-fired plants they replaced, thanks to advanced turbine technology. The second method is to convert the boiler at a coal-fired plant to burn natural gas instead. While most of the plants this data represents have transitioned fully to natural gas, there are some plants that maintain coal-burning capabilities that allow them to burn whichever fuel is most efficient at the time.


For more information on the data, please view the EIA release.

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