Global demand for coal is expected to remain stable over the next five years, supported by growth in major Asian markets.
That’s according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which found a fall in coal consumption in Europe and the US as a result of the phase out plans and an increase in gas consumption in the US will be offset by growth in a number of key economies in Asia.
Coal-fired electricity generation is set to experience its largest ever decline – more than 250TWh or more than 2.5% – led by double-digit falls in the US and Europe, with the trend continuing through 2024 in the regions.
However, countries in South and Southeast Asia, such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam, are relying on coal to fuel their economic growth.
Pakistan has also commissioned 5GW of coal power capacity since 2017 and an additional 5GW is set to come online over the next few years, although natural gas and oil have traditionally been the main sources of power in the country.
Natural gas has also been generating the bulk of electricity supply in Bangladesh but coal is to gain share in the coming years, with 10GW of capacity in the pipeline.
The IEA forecasts renewable energy will supply a major portion of the increase in global electricity demand up to 2024, with power generation from coal rising only marginally over that period at less than 1% per year.
Its share is expected to decline from 38% in 2018 to 35% in 2024, which means coal remains the single largest source of power supply worldwide by far.
The report suggests while coal is disappearing in many advanced economies, it remains “resilient” and is continuing to grow in developing economies in Asia.
Keisuke Sadamori, IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security said: “Wind and solar PV are growing rapidly in many parts of the world. With investment in new plants drying up, coal power capacity outside Asia is clearly declining and will continue to do so in the coming years.
“But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia. The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20% in 1990 to almost 80% in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals.”
Ultimately, global trends will depend largely on China, where half of the world’s coal is produced and consumed.