According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, though it will provide less of the nation's electricity in 2035, coal will still be a significant resource for the country. Here are the details.
* The EIA's Annual Energy Outlook Early Release Reference Case states that coal's share in the U.S. energy mix will drop from 45 percent in 2010 to 39 percent in 2035 as the nation turns more to natural gas and renewable fuels. 33 gigawatts of coal capacity will be retired, while only 14 gigawatts currently under construction will be completed in that time, as coal meets new emissions policies and an increase in construction costs for coal-fired plant.
* The EIA anticipates mines in the West will account for a continued increase in overall production, though that production is expected to decline through 2015 due to low natural gas prices and the retirement of coal-fired plants.
* The annual generation of natural gas will increase by 39 percent in the 25-year time frame, the EIA predicts, on the back of stable capital costs and low fuel prices. The executive summary of the Annual Energy Outlook states U.S. dependence on imported petroleum will decline because of increased domestic oil production, which is due to grow by more than 1 million barrels per day by 2020.
* Showing a 33 percent increase in its usage as a provider of electricity, renewable energy generation will largely depend on non-hydro sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. Solar is expected to grow the fasted of all renewable sources, though it will still only account for a small share of the energy generation provided in 2035.
* Renewable fuels are expected to grow through the implementation of a Federal renewable fuel standard for transportation fuels.
* Nuclear power plant generation is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2010 to 2035, with a total of 10 gigawatts of new capacity expected during that time. Additionally, there is an anticipation of 7 gigawatts of generation achieved from upgrades to existing nuclear units. In the later years of project, about 6 gigawatts of existing nuclear capacity will likely be retired.
* The full Annual Energy Outlook report is expected to be released in the spring, and will include information not available for the early release, including the EPA's mercury and air toxic standards that were issued in December.