December 18, 2018 Read More →

IEA sees coal’s share of global energy markets remaining stagnant


Coal consumption is expanding after two years of decline, but miners should brace for another period of sluggish growth, according to the International Energy Agency. In its latest annual report, the IEA forecasts global coal demand will remain essentially stable over the next five years, inching up by just over 1 percent between 2017 and 2023. The reason for coal’s stagnation remains unchanged from recent years: Developed nations are ditching the fossil fuel, while India and other emerging economies are turning to coal to quickly scale up electric power generation.

In 2023, the IEA sees the world consuming just over 5.4 billion tons of coal equivalent. At that level, coal would provide 25 percent of the world’s energy, down from 27 percent today. The agency sees cheap, cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources continuing to eat into coal’s share of the global energy mix.

Falling consumption in China, the world’s biggest market for coal, will be a major headwind for the fuel in the coming years. The nation’s coal consumption is poised to fall by about half a percent each year through 2023, the IEA projects. That’s due to policies aimed at improving the nation’s notoriously poor air quality, as well as China’s ongoing transformation from an energy-hungry industrial behemoth to a services-oriented economy. By 2020, the IEA expects growth in coal-fired power generation in China to peak.

Meanwhile, the IEA sees India’s appetite growing by 4 percent per year through 2023. That’s down from an average of more than 6 percent growth over the last decade. Nevertheless, India’s appetite for coal will increase by 150 million tons of coal equivalent by 2023, which means the subcontinent will account for the biggest absolute growth in consumption.

Coal demand will grow at the fastest clip in Southeast Asia, where countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam are building new coal-fired power plants to support economic development. Growth in the region is expected to rise by 5.7 percent through 2023, the IEA forecasts.

In the United States and Europe, coal demand is poised to drop by more than 2 percent each year as developed economies continue to shut down coal plants in favor of natural gas and renewable energy.

More: Coal demand will remain steady through 2023, International Energy Agency says

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