New record expected in 2022 in coal consumption, according to the IEA

The energy crisis affecting Europe is the main cause of the maintenance of coal at high consumption levels.

Global coal consumption, the leading source of CO emissions2, is expected to hit a new high in 2022, driven in particular by increased, albeit temporary, demand from Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report released on Friday. This global consumption is expected to grow by 1.2% compared to last year, to more than 8 billion tonnes, beating a record of 2013, according to the annual report on coal prepared by the institution.

This aggregate demand is then expected to remain at roughly this level until 2025, “in the absence of additional efforts to accelerate the energy transition“, Estimates the IEA, which foresees a decline in advanced economies but still “robust” demand in Asia. Consequence for the climate: coal, the most harmful energy of all, will remain in the immediate future and by far the first source of CO2 of the global energy system.

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Renewables and energy efficiency

The world is nearing a peak in its use of fossil fuels, with coal expected to decline first, but we’re not there yetsums up Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the IEA. “Coal demand is holding up and will likely hit an all-time high this year, pushing global emissions higher“, he continues. “At the same time, many signals show that the current crisis is also accelerating the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, the use of heat pumps“, adds the expert, for whom”government measures will be decisiveto speed up this movement.

In a context of energy crisis, the demand for coal, to produce electricity, benefited this year in particular from the increase in the price of gas, even if the economic slowdown reduced the demand for electricity. In China (53% of global consumption), demand has suffered, on the one hand, from confinements linked to Covid, but drought and heat waves have also boosted air conditioning needs and reduced the possible use of hydroelectricity.

Europe, faced with the drop in gas deliveries from Russia, should for its part see its coal consumption increase in 2022 for the second consecutive year. Coal prices, however, rose to unprecedented levels in March and then in June, in the wake of gas prices but also production difficulties in Australia, a key supplier. But the world’s top three producers – China, India and Indonesia – all broke production records this year.

As a glimmer in this landscape, the report sees no movement of investments in favor of projects intended for export. “This reflects the caution of investors and mining companies about the prospects for coal in the medium and long term.“, underlines the agency, created in 1974 by the OECD to advise the States in their energy policy.

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