A new 5-year outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects global consumption of coal will increase 2.3 percent annually to reach nearly 9 billion tons in 2018. Between 2007 and 2012, coal use rose at an average rate of 3.4 percent. Despite the slightly slower pace of growth, however, coal will meet more of the increase in global primary energy than oil or natural gas – continuing a trend that has been in place for more than a decade.
Demand for coal is expected to grow the fastest in Asia, with the region's market projected to remain buoyant. According to the report, China will account for some 60 percent of new gloabl demand. However, IEA outlines that strong Chinese policies to reduce coal dependency, encourage energy efficiency and diversify generation will dent that growth, slowing the global increase in demand.
The report also notes that Australia will continue to be the global leader in coal-fueled power generation, followed by the U.S. and Germany. Australia and Indonesia are also expected to be export leaders for coal during this period while demand from countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will remain relatively unchanged.
“Like it or not, coal is here to stay for a long time to come,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “Coal is abundant and geopolitically secure, and coal-fired plants are easily integrated into existing power systems. With advantages like these, it is easy to see why coal demand continues to grow. But it is equally important to emphasise that coal in its current form is simply unsustainable."