World coal perspectives to 2030 | Part 1: Availability Of Energy: Coal’s Lasting Asset

The projected growth of energy demand particularly in developing countries will prompt a significant increase of CO2 emissions. The coal industry and power equipment manufacturers are making every effort to deploy technologies with higher efficiencies in the short and medium term and to develop carbon sequestration to technical and commercial maturity in the next 15 to 20 years.

World coal perspectives to 2030

Read more:

World coal perspectives to 2030 | Part 2: Accessibility Of Energy: Coal’s Growing Strength

World coal perspectives to 2030 | Part 3: Accessibility Of Energy: Coal’s Technological Agenda

World coal demand on the rise

Demand for coal (hard coal, brown coal, lignite) has grown by 62 % over the past thirty years. IEA, in its reference scenario, expects coal demand to grow by another 53 % up to 2030 and EU-WETO by 100 %. WEC/IIASA market-driven scenarios project a continued growth during the remainder of the century. By contrast, carbon constraining policies would lead to a decline of coal demand as of 2030 or slightly before (see Graph 1); this begs the question how relevant such policies could be in addressing the issue of “energy poverty eradication and the role of affordable universal energy access as the principal issues of sustainable development” (World Summit on Sustainable Development). In market-driven scenarios, the share of coal will decline slowly from 26 % in 2000 to 24 % in 2020 and 22 % in 2050. Carbon constraints would reduce the share of coal to 11 % in 2050, which (nevertheless) corresponds to 2.1 bill. tce (2000: 3.4 bill. tce).

World coal perspectives to 2030 01
Graph 1: World coal perspectives to 2030

The main driver: power generation

Most of the increase of coal demand will be from power plants, which will absorb in 2030 some 74 % of coal supplies, against 66 % in 2000. Three decades from now, coal would cover 45 % of world power needs, compared with 38 % in 2000.

New regional demand and production patterns

Under the impact of demand, during the last 30 years, production rose steeply in China (with a temporary adjustment recently), India, United States, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Colombia and Indonesia, but declined in Europe with its high-cost deposits. This pattern is expected to continue.

Towards globalisation: international coal trade

The coal mining and power generation industry becomes ever more global. Whereas international sea-borne hard coal trade accounted for only 7.5 % of world hard coal production in 1970, by 2000 already 16 % of production was internationally traded. At 637 mill t in 2000, international coal shipments are expected to grow to 1051mill t in 2030 , corresponding to 15 % of world coal production.

Trading practices change: short-term contracts and tenders prevail over long[1]term contracts as a result of strong competition. Mergers, acquisitions and horizontal and vertical integration gain ground. Consolidation allows economies of scale and reduces overheads, hence enables competitive pricing. While in 2001, the five largest private coal companies accounted for 40 % of international hard coal trade, competition continued as new suppliers entered the market. Sear-borne shipping accounts for about 30 % of the delivered cost of coal. A reduction of these costs would contribute to enhancing coal’s markets.

Coal reserves: the benefit of size

Economically recoverable coal reserves are huge. Despite increased production during the next thirty years, only 25 % of presently known coal reserves will be depleted, compared with 84 % of oil reserves and 64 % of gas reserves. Moreover, depletion ratios will slow due to the anticipated increase in coal combustion efficiency and related fuel savings of as much as 35 %. Nevertheless, the industry should remain active in exploration, be it alone to enhance coal’s contribution to energy security.

Source: World Energy Council, Geneva/London

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