Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A World Mad for Coal

There's a big bright future ahead for coal and we'll pay dearly for it.

The International Energy Agency warns that, within five years, coal will rival oil as the fossil fuel energy source of choice.

Coal consumption is increasing all over the world – even in countries and regions with carbon-cutting targets – except the US, where shale gas has displaced coal, shows new research from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The decline of the fuel in the US has helped to cut prices for coal globally, which has made it more attractive, even in Europe where coal use was supposed to be discouraged by the emissions trading scheme.

Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA, said: "Coal's share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade."

Coal is abundant and found in most regions of the world, unlike conventional oil and gas, and can be cheaply extracted. As a result, coal was used to meet nearly half of the rise in demand for energy globally in the past decade. According to the IEA, demand from China and India will drive world coal use in the coming five years, with India on course to overtake the US as the world's second biggest consumer. China is the biggest coal importer, and Indonesia the biggest exporter, having temporarily overtaken Australia.

The IEA report comes atop a study in Nature Climate Change that suggests we still have a chance of staying within the 2C target but that would require shutting down 65% of existing coal-fired power plants within the next 10 to 15 years.   In November the World Resources Institute reported that no fewer than 1,200 new coal-fired power plants are in planning or under development around the world, two thirds of them in India and China.

1 comment:

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.