Coal production in 2016 expected to be lowest in decades

By the end of 2016 overall coal production is expected to drop to its lowest level since 1978, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In its 2017 Outlook, the department’s Energy Information Administration predicts a 17 percent decrease in coal production by the end of this year, followed by a three percent increase in 2017.

Natural gas production will fall this year, too – the first annual decline since 2005, according to the Outlook. Natural gas production is expected to rises slightly in November,  as well as next year, as drilling activity increases.

Growing use of natural gas will give a boost to the Henry Hub natural gas spot price, bringing it up from $2.50 per million British thermal units to $3.12 per million in 2017.

National wind capacity in 2015 was 72 gigawatts, which the EIA predicts will rise by eight gigawatts in 2016 and nine more gigawatts in 2017, bringing the overall capacity to 80 gigawatts by the end of 2017.