(EFE).- The world’s coal consumption is set to increase by 1.2 percent this year, surpassing the previous record in 2013 and the threshold of eight billion tonnes in one year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In its annual report on the fuel, which is and will continue to be the main contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the short and medium term, the IEA estimates that the demand for coal will remain at about the same level until 2025.
The reduced demand in developed economies like those of Europe and the United States will be balanced out by increased consumption in emerging Asian countries.
China is by far the world’s largest coal consumer, accounting for 53 percent of the total coal use.
There, the IEA anticipates a limited annual increase of 0.7 percent until 2025, provided that renewable power generation increases by 1,000 terawatt-hours, equivalent to Japan’s current total power generation.
In India, the world’s second largest coal consumer, consumption has doubled since 2007 at an annual growth rate of six percent, which is expected to remain stagnant.
The worldwide increase in coal usage in 2022 is directly related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has led to a significant increase in gas prices and a search for alternatives.
Coal has been one of these alternatives. For instance, in the European Union, where the hike in gas prices has been most prominent, coal has been used for electricity generation, given the lack of sufficient water reserves for hydroelectricity generation and problems in French nuclear power plants.
Faced with gas shortages and subsequent issues, some coal plants that had been shut down have resumed function.
This has happened particularly in Germany, which, with 10 additional gigawatts of coal, has gone back to using coal after years of trying to move away from the fuel.
Authors of the study believe that, in any case, even though coal power generation in the EU will continue at the same elevated levels for some time, demand will decline again in 2024, with the reinforcement of energy efficiency and spreading of renewables.
Keisuke Sadamori, IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security, said that “the world is close to a peak in fossil fuel use, with coal set to be the first to decline, but we are not there yet.”
Sadamori emphasized that “at the same time, there are many signs that today’s crisis is accelerating the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency and heat pumps – and this will moderate coal demand in the coming years.”
European sanctions against coal from Russia, the world’s third largest exporter, have given rise to a readjustment in the international market, with a reduction in Russian sales.
Increased imports from South Africa, Colombia and other smaller producers such as Tanzania and Botswana have made up for Russian coal in Europe.
In the US, however, lack of investment and labor, and transport bottlenecks have led to a reduction in exports, despite the fact that coal prices, affected by gas prices, reached record levels in March and again in summer.
These rates have moderated since then, as some supply issues, particularly in Australia due to rains and floods, have been resolved.
Nevertheless, authors of the report point out that even though elevated prices and the geopolitical situation caused by the war in Ukraine could attract more investment in coal mines, there are no strong signs of this happening.
The only exceptions are China and India, where domestic production is encouraged to reduce external dependence. EFE
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