Coal demand down second year in row, says IEA report

A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that global coal demand is in decline for the second year in a row, having fallen by 1.9 per cent in 2016 to 5.36 million tonnes.

Although demand for coal has risen in India, Pakistan and other areas of Asia, it has fallen considerably in the United States, United Kingdom (due largely to the carbon tax) and, in particular, China, where leaders are combating coal use to improve the country’s air quality.

The report notes that the period from 2014 to 2017 almost matched the record low of 1990 to 1992. From 2017 to 2022, the IEA reckons coal consumption will remain almost flat, leading to a stagnant decade for the resource.

Coal as an energy source is expected to go from a 27 per cent global share to a 26 per cent share by 2022. The IEA has pointed to carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology, a way to extract carbon dioxide from atmospheric flue gas, as a potential solution for the coal decline.

“This serves as a critical reminder why technologies like CCUS are so important, and why governments and companies need to step up their policy support and investments in that sector in order to meet global climate goals,” said IEA director Keisuke Sadamori. “Indeed, without CCUS, coal use will be seriously constrained in the future.”