Coal Set to Overtake Oil by 2022

coal mining

A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has claimed that over the next decade coal will replace oil as the world’s leading source of energy.

Growing demand in highly populous countries such as China and India are behind the rise in consumption, with the report predicting that by 2014 the two nations will account for the majority of the world’s coal usage.

Published yesterday, the IEA’s Medium Term Coal Market Report concluded that, globally, 1.2bn more tonnes of coal will be burnt per year by 2017 than at present, taking total consumption to 4.3bn tonnes of oil equivalent. Oil consumption is forecast to reach 4.4bn tonnes over the same period.

Maria Van der Hoeven, chief executive of the IEA said:

Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year […] if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade.

According to the report, the U.S.A, currently the second largest consumer of coal in the world, is the only country set to see a reduction in the amount of coal it uses, as shale gas will play an increasingly important part in meeting its energy needs.

Van der Hoeven continued:

The US experience suggests that a more efficient gas market, marked by flexible pricing and fuelled by indigenous unconventional resources that are produced sustainably can reduce coal use, CO2 emissions and consumers’ electricity bills without harming energy security

As well as discussing the need to reduce coal demand, Van der Hoeven also pointed to the importance of carbon capture in mitigating the environmental impact of the fuel’s use:

CCS technologies are not taking off as once expected, which means CO2 emissions will keep growing substantially. Without progress in CCS, and if other countries cannot replicate the US experience and reduce coal demand, coal faces the risk of a potential climate policy backlash.

These comments come with the EU having just announced that, despite setting aside a £224m fund for the purpose, they’ve not been able to find a single carbon capture project to invest in as none of the projects in the running could secure funds from their own governments.

Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament Chris Davies said:

We may have fallen at the first hurdle but we mustn’t give up […] CCS becomes even more important globally with coal set to overtake oil as the primary source of energy.

Green Steve’s Reaction

I’m not exactly surprised by this news given how cheap coal power is and how fast those economies are growing and the latest news about carbon capture and storage isn’t very promising either.

I’m not sure that following the US fracking model is any better in the long term though.

I can only repeat my many arguments for a move towards greener, more sustainable energy production. Frankly, if I have to include nuclear in that then I will take it over coal and gas any day.

Steve (156 Posts)

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