Power provided by coal-fired plants drops as a result of pandemic

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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New report shows electric power demand dropped during 2020 due to pandemic.

A new report shows a significant drop in electric power demand during pandemic.

The New York Times reported today that the demand for power in 2020 dropped 20 percent in some regions of the world, says a recent study by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The results were published yesterday in a journal called Nature Climate Change.

Researchers involved in the study analyzed the demand for electricity and the amount and type of admissions in India, Europe and the United States. The report also said that, in addition reduced power demand, researchers found reductions in carbon dioxide emissions up to 50 percent in some areas. Britain, Germany and Spain showed the most dramatic results.

The report also asserts that these results could hasten the move away from coal to renewable sources of energy, according to The Times. In addition, researchers said that while the construction of power plants that are fueled by solar or wind is more expensive than a conventional plant, once the plant is built, there is no fuel expense.

The researchers pointed out, too, that they’re not predicting the complete demise of coal anytime soon. That’s partially because countries in Southeast Asia rely on coal power to fuel economic growth, and the Chinese coal industry is looking for opportunities for coal in nearby countries, as China itself grapples with trying to move away from coal due to the extremely high levels of air pollution there.

While the short-term outlook for rail transportation of coal is about the same as it has been, coal traffic continues to decline. Long-term trends such as those predicted in the Potsdam report will likely be a different story.

Categories: Class 1, Freight, Intermodal, Shortline/Regional
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