The introduction of new emissions standards will accelerate the shift in the US away from coal-fired power generation. At the same time, the country is on course to install a record level of renewables in 2015.
These developments mean electricity-related emissions in the US could fall to their lowest level since 1994, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF). It forecasts that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which came into effect on 16 April and followed a period of cheap gas, will retire 23GW of coal-fired generation this year.
A further 30GW will be taken offline by 2020. Meanwhile, 18.3GW of renewables capacity will be installed this year as developers rush to take advantage of federal incentives before they end in 2017. Bloomberg NEF says a record level of solar (9.1GW) will be installed in 2015, mostly in California, and the third-highest annual amount of wind (8.9GW) generation will be built.
Despite the forecast rise in renewables capacity, Bloomberg NEF predicts that natural gas-fired generators will largely replace coal power plants as falling gas prices encourage investment in more efficient, combined-cycle turbines.