By Ronan Martin
Despite the global shift toward economies based on renewable energy, the dirtiest fossil fuel looks set to keep its role as the world’s biggest power source although its share will slip to 35% in 2021 from 36.5% last year.
Coal use in power generation globally is expected to increase by as much as 2.8% next year as electricity demand rebounds particularly in Asia, the IEA said in its 2020 coal report.
Over the next 5 years, global demand is forecast to “flatten out” at around 7.4 billion tons, as declines in Europe and the U.S. will offset any increased use in Asia. The main drivers of demand for the fuel will continue to be China and India, which both rely heavily on the fuel in their energy mix.
While there are few signs that use of the fossil fuel will fade away any time soon, the IEA said that unless there are unforeseen developments that would significantly boost demand, it’s likely that consumption peaked in 2013.
EU coal demand is expected to increase marginally for the first time since 2012, rising 3.5%. The U.S. rebound will be the first since 2014, increasing consumption by 11.1% next year.
By 2025, the EU and U.S. will account for less than 10% of global coal demand, falling from as much as 37% in 2000.
“Renewables are on track to surpass coal as the largest source of electricity in the world by 2025. And by that time, natural gas will likely have taken over coal as the second-largest source of primary energy after oil,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security.