Coal’s days as the leading energy source for America are over. A different energy source promises to reduce pollution and provide energy independence for America.

Natural gas already meets a third of America’s energy needs. This year it crossed an important threshold. It surpassed coal as the leading source of electricity in America. Take a look at the chart below:

Leading Source of Electricity

As you can see in the chart above, natural gas and coal use trends go in two different directions.

Despite America’s vast reserves of coal, its use declined since the mid-2000s. Coal’s flaws dragged it down despite support from Washington.

Leading Source of Electricity

Burning coal creates a lot of pollution. A natural gas plant will emit half as much carbon dioxide and no particulate matter compared to coal.

But coal also creates real pollution — sulfur and nitrogen compounds that cause acid rain. Coal ash holds trace amounts of harmful metals like mercury. Coal soot is the main source of “nonpoint source” mercury contamination in large swaths of Florida.

Coal plants take a long time to reach their operating efficiency. They must remain operating, regardless of electricity demand. Natural gas plants are nimble in comparison. They are quick to respond to changes in power demand.

Natural gas is the perfect partner for renewable energy, like solar and wind power. Natural gas works alongside renewables to provide power during times of low wind or high-cloud cover.

Thanks to the shale revolution, we have a lot of natural gas. That kept the price low, relative to coal, since 2009.

That caused some coal miners to cut costs. Skimping on safety measures killed many coal miners. The total U.S. deaths doubled from 2016 to 2017.

If you are looking for a long-term energy play, you should keep natural gas on your radar.

Good investing,

Anthony Planas

Anthony Planas

Internal Analyst, Banyan Hill Publishing