Demand for coal is expected to slow down globally as China, the world’s largest consumer, aims to use more clean energy sources.
The International Energy Agency today said annual demand for coal will grow at 2.3% a year to 6.35 billion metric tonnes in the five years to 2018.
That’s down from the 2.6% previously forecast in the body’s yearly Medium-Term Coal Market Report.
It suggested the future of coal is increasingly tied to developments in non-OECD countries, led by China. The nation is expected to account for nearly 60% of new global demand up to 2018.
The growing superpower is by far the largest producer of coal and was responsible for more than 50% of the global demand last year, importing 301 million metric tonnes – an amount never before imported by a country in a single year, the report claims.
Despite the predicted fall in demand over the next five years, coal will meet more of the increase in global primary energy than oil or gas.
Maria van der Hoeven, IEA Executive Director said: “Like it or not, coal is here to stay for a long time to come. Coal is abundant and geopolitically secure and coal-fired plants are easily integrated into existing power systems. With advantages like these, it is easy to see why coal demand continues to grow. But it is equally important to emphasise that coal in its current form is simply unsustainable.”
Increasing renewable generation and energy efficiency is expected to trim coal demand by 23 million tonnes of coal equivalent over the outlook period in Europe while rising shale gas production will create “intense price competition” for coal in the US, the report states.
Last week the Lords rejected an amendment which would have forced existing coal plants to cut carbon emissions by 2025 in the UK.