The coal industry is finally taking off, but coal-fired power plants are still relatively new.
With a new $6 billion plant under construction in Kentucky, the nation’s largest, the coal-burning industry is poised to surpass coal power for the first time in at least a decade.
In fact, the industry’s share of the U.S. electricity market has grown from less than 1 percent in 2014 to nearly 4 percent in 2016, according to the Electric Power Research Institute.
Coal-fired electricity is one of the largest energy consumers in the United States, accounting for more than 40 percent of U.N. climate targets and nearly 40 percent as much of the nation as oil and gas combined, according the EPRI.
It is also one of its least expensive sources of electricity, according a study by the International Energy Agency.
The Kentucky plant, the first of its kind, is part of a wave of coal plants being built in the coming years.
“The market is growing and it is also growing at an accelerated pace,” said Mark Egan, an EPRIs director of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
But Egan said there are risks for the coal sector as the industry becomes more regulated.
Currently, coal-power plants in the U:n’t subject to new federal rules.
Under President Trump, coal plants are subject to stricter federal regulations, which include tighter rules for air pollution.
That means it is more expensive to operate and potentially more costly to recover power from coal-powered plants.
Additionally, the federal government is proposing to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, a set of rules that require states to reduce their carbon emissions from their power plants.
In the interim, Egan noted that coal-heavy states are not required to reduce carbon emissions.
To be sure, E-waste production is rising.
The United States produced 4.6 billion metric tons of E-Waste in 2016 and is projected to reach 6.5 billion metric ton in 2021, according data from the Energy Information Administration.
As coal becomes more costly and the economy adjusts to it, the market could shift, Eagan said.
There are also environmental issues at play, Eren said.
Coal emits greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon monoxide, that are harmful to the environment.
E-mails sent to The Hill from the E-Policy Institute, an industry group, indicated that the Kentucky plant has the potential to generate significant greenhouse gases from power plant exhaust.
EPMI said the plant, if fully built, would produce about 6 percent of the country’s annual CO 2 emissions.
But the plant also has a number of benefits, including carbon capture and storage, EPMIs chief executive officer, Brian Smith, said.
Smith said it would be more cost effective to have a larger plant that could capture some of the emissions, such a capture and transport plant.
Even if it was only capturing a portion of emissions, the facility would be a cost-effective solution for the energy sector, Smith said.
“There’s no question that we would be able to capture a portion and have a net emissions reduction.”
The federal government has also proposed to phase out the Clean Air Act and the Renewable Fuel Standard, which require electricity companies to generate electricity from renewable sources and avoid the use of carbon-heavy fuels.
While EPMIS is confident that the plant will have a significant carbon capture capacity, Smith noted that there is a “huge risk” the plant won’t be built, or if built it will be too small.
For now, the EPMII plans to keep the Kentucky facility open until at least 2022, when the federal regulations go into effect.
It also has set up a pilot program in Indiana to evaluate the feasibility of an expansion, but EPMs chief operating officer, Mark Hahn, said the company has yet to make a decision.
At a hearing last week, EMA Director Robert S. Reilly, a former EPA official, said that the Clean Energy and Security Act, a federal law that requires the federal Energy Information Agency to conduct a “comprehensive analysis” of the carbon emissions and emissions from power plants, is “essential” to understanding coal’s impact on climate change.
Reilly said the Clean Environment Act would have “been a lot better” without the EMA’s work on the coal plants.