The economic rebound from the pandemic is taking coal power generation to a new record high this year, with global coal demand likely hitting another new high next year, undermining net-zero efforts, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its annual Coal 2021 report released on Friday.
According to the agency, the 2020 collapse in coal demand turned out to be smaller than anticipated, as China’s recovery began sooner than expected and turned out to be stronger than initially forecast.
Based on current trends, global coal demand is set to rise to 8025 Mt in 2022, the highest level ever seen, and to remain there through 2024, the IEA estimates.
This year’s global recovery dashed any hopes that coal-fired power generation may have peaked, the IEA said, expecting global coal power generation to rise by 9 percent this year to 10350 terawatt-hours (TWh)—a new all-time high.
Over the next two years, global coal demand could even see new record highs as emerging markets led by China and India will lead consumption growth which is set to outpace declines in developed economies, according to the IEA.
Global coal consumption is not on the Net Zero trajectory and is unlikely to be before 2024, the agency said.
“Although global investment in renewable energy will be strong in the medium and long term, coal supplies are expected to expand until 2024,” the IEA said in its report.
“Coal is the single largest source of global carbon emissions, and this year’s historically high level of coal power generation is a worrying sign of how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net zero,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
According to Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the IEA, “The pledges to reach net zero emissions made by many countries, including China and India, should have very strong implications for coal – but these are not yet visible in our near-term forecast, reflecting the major gap between ambitions and action.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Moreover, it isn’t the economic rebound from the pandemic that is taking coal power generation to new record high this year as the IEA falsely claims. It is the EU’s hasty energy transition that led to skyrocketing prices of natural gas and a shift from natural gas to coal and oil. The EU rash policies have even undermined their own concept of zero emissions.
It is no coincidence that some EU countries and utilities had to restart coal plants to fill a gap between demand for electricity and supply because they couldn’t afford the soaring gas prices.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London