Coal-power boom falters in stampede to alternative sources

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The race to coal-fired plants is falling behind the competition as global warming drives the steady shift to more planet-friendly fuels.

About 45 coal-fired power plants were either cancelled or delayed in the past 12 months, according to the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, reversing the craving for coal plants.

Natural-gas and renewable projects have now outpaced coal plants, according to Global Energy Decisions. Non-coal plans total more than 70,000 megawatts while coal has dropped to just 66,000 megawatts in the pipeline.

About 28 coal-fired power plants already under construction are moving forward, as are plant expansions. But for six other facilities “near construction,” their fate has become unknown. Another 80 plants “in development” may be cancelled outright. Last year, Texas utility TXU canceled eight of its planned 11 coal-fired power plants.

Alternative sources are stepping into the breach. Texas is now number one for wind-power with Kansas not far behind. Indeed, the Kansas wind-power industry is growing so fast, companies there cannot find enough qualified workers.

California is deriving significant energy from geo-thermal. Thin-film solar strips are rapidly taking up roof space. Moreover, co-generation has become increasingly popular as heat from machines is captured and returned to the grid or other users.

Hence, alternative sources are slowly but surely burning into industry’s demand for the dirty, health hazardous fuel that is coal.

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