Global Coal Demand to Hit Record High Due to China, India, U.S. Needs

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that surging consumption in China, India and the U.S. could bring global demand for coal power to a new record high this year, undermining efforts to cut carbon emissions.

In a report published on Friday, the IEA said that global power generation from coal is expected to reach an all-time high of 10,350 terawatt-hours, increasing by 9 percent from last year.

Rapid economic recovery that has “pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up” was the key factor for the power generation surge, said the IEA.

Coal consumption for uses beyond power generation, such as cement and steel production, is expected to grow by 6 percent during the same period, according to the report. Overall demand for coal is also expected to surpass record levels reached in 2013 by as soon as 2022.

“This year’s historically high level of coal power generation is a worrying sign of how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net zero,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, adding that urgent policy action is needed to achieve climate goals.

China, which is responsible for over half of global coal-fired electricity generation, is forecasted to increase consumption by 9 percent this year. Meanwhile, Indian coal consumption is seen to grow 12 percent.

The IEA noted that while coal power generation in the U.S. and the European Union is seen to increase by 20 percent this year, coal usage in those two economies are expected to slow down next year.


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