Full Title: Technological Obsolescence and the End of Coal
Author(s): Stan Kaplan
Publisher(s): Stan Kaplan
Publication Date: July 9, 2020
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Coal is dying in America, and it is disappearing for the same reason that led to the end of fax machines and typewriters. Coal is obsolete. Across all technical dimensions coal technology has been comprehensively surpassed by more modern natural gas and renewable electricity systems.
Technological obsolescence has stuck the coal industry before, in the rail, space heating, steel, and industrial markets — all of which have shrunk to near inconsequential size. Now technological obsolescence has struck coal in its last big market, electricity generation. The result is that coal-fired power is too expensive to survive.
Nothing is more characteristic of dynamic American capitalism than technical progress forcing change. It is time to move on from coal.