Global coal consumption is set to hit a record this year. It is expected to exceed eight billion metric tons for the first time and will likely remain high for years unless the world makes more significant efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy. This is according to an analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which looks at coal consumption.
The switch to relatively cheaper coal has been prompted by the sharp rise in gas prices in some countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent gas supply shortages. Heat waves and droughts have boosted electricity demand in some regions, which has reduced hydropower generation. In Europe, in particular, nuclear power generation was fragile as France had to shut down its nuclear reactors for maintenance.
Coal consumption increased by 1.2 percent compared to the previous year. It also surpassed the last record year in 2013.
The IEA forecasts that coal consumption will stagnate at this level until 2025, with declines in developed markets offset by continued strong demand in emerging Asian economies.
The IEA says that coal will continue to be the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the global energy system.
The most significant increase in coal demand is expected in India, up seven percent. This is followed by the European Union, with a growth of six percent, and then China, where a gain of 0.4 percent is expected. Coal demand in Europe has increased due to the switch from gas to coal caused by high gas prices and supply constraints from Russia. However, by 2025, the analysis said that coal demand in Europe is expected to fall below this year’s level.
The IEA estimates that coal production will peak next year. But by 2025, it should fall below this year’s level.
“The world is approaching a peak in fossil fuel use, and coal will be the first to decline. But we are not there yet,” said Keisuke Sadamori, IEA director for energy markets and security.