Record-breaking demand for coal-fired electricity in 2021 threatens net zero targets, says IEA
Global demand for coal-generated electricity is expected to reach record highs this year, threatening global net zero targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. .
Global coal-fired power generation is expected to jump 9% in 2021 to an all-time high of 10,350 terawatt-hours, thanks to a rapid economic recovery that has driven demand for electricity much faster than supplies low-carbon emissions cannot keep up, the IEA said in its latest annual market report.
Overall, global demand for coal – including uses other than power generation, such as cement and steel production – is expected to increase by 6% this year, according to the Coal’s 2021 report. OUCH.
Depending on weather conditions and economic growth, aggregate demand for coal could reach new historic highs as early as 2022 and remain at that level for the next two years, underscoring the need for “swift and strong” political action, he said. declared the agency.
“Coal is the main source of carbon emissions in the world, and the historically high level of coal-fired power generation this year is a worrying sign of the world’s distance in its efforts to bring emissions back down. zero net, ”Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said. “Without firm and immediate action by governments to tackle coal emissions – in a way that is fair, affordable and safe for those affected – we will have little or no chance of limiting global warming to 1, 5 ° C. “
In China, where more than half of the world’s coal-fired power generation takes place, coal-fired power generation is expected to increase 9% in 2021, the IEA said.
In India, it is expected to increase by 12% this year. This would set new all-time highs in both countries, even as they deploy significant amounts of solar and wind capacity.
“The promises to achieve 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 short-term forecast, reflecting the major gap between ambitions and action, “Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security at IEA, said.
Asia dominates the global coal market, with China and India accounting for two-thirds of aggregate demand, Sadamori said. These two economies – dependent on coal and with a combined population of nearly 3 billion people – hold the key to future demand for coal, he added.
In 2020, global demand for coal fell 4.4%, the biggest drop in decades but much smaller than the annual drop that was initially expected at the height of lockdowns at the start of the pandemic, according to the report.
Coal prices have been on a roller coaster over the past two years. After falling to $ 50 per tonne in the second quarter of 2020, they began to climb towards the end of the year, with reductions in supply balancing the market before rebounds in economic activity and demand for coal began to rise. China does start to push up the prices.
In 2021, prices rose further due to higher demand than supply in China – the global pricing body for coal – as well as supply disruptions and higher prices for natural gas in China. the world.
Coal prices hit all-time highs in early October 2021, with thermal coal imported into Europe, for example, reaching $ 298 per tonne.
The Chinese government’s rapid political intervention to balance the market had a rapid effect on prices. By mid-December, European prices were back below $ 150 per tonne.
Updated: December 18, 2021 9:05 AM