U.S. thermal coal producers watched their domestic customer base shrink in 2020 as utilities continued to announce coal-fired power plant closures and transition to less expensive renewable and natural gas sources.
Companies delivered about 33.4% of the total coal produced last year in the U.S. to power plants already slated for retirement, an increase in the volume and proportion of coal destined for retiring plants compared with 2019, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis.
Customers from power plants with an announced retirement date between 2021 and 2042 purchased 178.5 million tons of coal last year, out of the approximately 534.7 million tons of coal mined across nine coal basins in the U.S.
In comparison, about 174.3 million tons, or roughly 25%, of coal produced in the U.S. in 2019 went to power plants with planned retirement dates.
The announced coal plant retirements assessed by Market Intelligence are scheduled to take place over the next 21 years.