Coal power is falling from favor, and, until renewables can fill the gap, natural gas is taking up a lot of the slack. But more than just mining jobs are being lost as the shift occurs: IEEE Spectrum reports that new natural gas power plants are so heavily automated that the number of workers required to turn fossil fuels into electricity is also falling. You want numbers? Sure: as an example from IEEE Spectrum, DTE Energy has announced that it’s going to replace three coal-powered plants in Michigan with a single natural gas facility. The former employed a total of 500 people, but the new plant will require just 35. That, it appears, is what happens when you load industrial facilities with sensors and remote control systems. It is, of course, a familiar narrative that’s playing out everywhere—from factory floors to fast food outlets—but it’s interesting to hear how something as industrial as energy production is feeling the bite, too.
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