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IEA report shows: Global coal demand expected to remain stable in the near future

IEA report shows: Global coal demand expected to remain stable in the near future

January 24, 2020 | According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global coal demand declined in 2019, but will remain largely stable over the next five years. This is the result of the latest IEA report “Coal 2019”, in which the two EWI researchers Samir Jeddi and Max Schönfisch were involved as authors.

The decrease in coal demand in 2019 results mainly from coal-fired electricity generation, which experienced its largest ever decline – over 250 TWh (more than 2.5%). This drop is led by significant declines in the United States and Europe.

Robust growth in Asian markets

However, it is too soon to say whether the global decline in coal-fired electricity generation in 2019 will be the beginning of a lasting trend. On the one hand, renewable energies are expected to supply a large portion of the growth in global electricity demand over the next five years. In addition, coal-based electricity generation is expected to grow only marginally at less than 1 % per year over this period. On the other hand, the share of coal in global electricity generation will only decline from 38 % in 2018 to 35 % in 2024.

Coal will thus remain the single largest source of electricity supply worldwide. The demand for coal is driven primarily by robust growth in the Asian markets. The region’s share of global coal-fired power generation has risen from just over 20 % in 1990 to almost 80 % in 2019. The future of coal is therefore increasingly tied to the Asian markets.

Hence, the forecast for global coal demand in the IEA report “Coal 2019” remains robust. However, the report shows that the potential downside risks for coal are increasing. Public opposition to coal is growing, many countries are considering stronger climate and environmental policies, and renewables and natural gas are becoming more competitive.