The US Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $39 million (£31m) in funding for research and development to improve the nation’s existing coal-fired power stations.

The grant is being shared by 17 projects that aim to improve the overall performance, efficiency, reliability and flexibility of the coal-fired fleet.

The research will support DOE’s goal to improve the average efficiency of a typical plant in the existing fleet by 5%, from the 2017 baseline of 31%, by 2020.

Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy said: “Coal-fired power plants represent the second-largest energy source for electricity generation in the United States. The Trump Administration remains committed to ensuring a coal-fuelled power plant fleet that provides stable energy to the power grid.”

The news comes as a recent analysis found US renewable energy capacity surpassed coal power for the first time in history in April this year.

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