EIA | According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 121 U.S. coal-fired power plants were repurposed to burn other types of fuels between 2011 and 2019, 103 of which were converted to or replaced by natural gas-fired plants. 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. The decision for plants to switch from coal to natural gas was driven by stricter emission standards, low natural gas prices, and more efficient new natural gas turbine technology.
Two different methods are used to switch coal-fired plants to natural gas. The first method is to retire the coal-fired plant and replace it with a new natural gas-fired combined-cycle (NGCC) plant. The second method is to convert the boiler of a coal-fired steam plant to burn other types of fuel, such as natural gas.
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