After a decade of rapid growth, the world’s coal demand has stalled, according to the International Energy Agency. This is largely due to the economic restructuring of China, which is the world’s largest consumer of coal. Furthermore, the recent COP21 talks that were conducted in Paris will be acting as a deterrent for increasing coal consumption.
In 2014, China’s demand for coal decreased and now another drop in 2015 will be the first time demand has seen a two consecutive year decline since 1982.
“The coal industry is facing huge pressures, and the main reason is China – but it is not the only reason,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said as he launched the report in Singapore at an event organized by the Energy Market Authority. “The economic transformation in China and environmental policies worldwide – including the recent climate agreement in Paris – will likely continue to constrain global coal demand.” (bit.ly/1YpzE5Z)
Another factor impacting the global demand for coal is China’s shift away from energy-intensive industries towards service-based industries. Also, hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar energy have been catching on, further reducing the amount of coal needed to power the country. Recent smog levels in China have also hit all time highs, adding more incentive to cut down on smog producing coal.
Even though China is the world’s largest consumer of coal, they are not the only reason global demand continues to fall. Developing nations spoke out in the recent climate discussions that took place in Paris, voicing their concerns about the climate and how more effort is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was noted that developed nations must be willing to share renewable and sustainable energy technology with these developing nations to further reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions while developing nations demand for energy begins to grow.
Coal is not going away by any means. Yes, demand is shrinking, but it’s still up there with natural gas as one of the world’s main fuels to produce energy in all of its forms. Efforts to curb the use of coal will only protect the climate so much. There has been an effort to employ Carbon Capture and Storage Technology (CCS) to existing coal facilities to further aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from escaping into the atmosphere.
CCS will have a profound impact on the amount of emissions released from coal and other fossil fuel plants in the future. As of now, there are a number of small instillations but there are no large-scale instillations just yet. CCS is more than just a way to reduce emission from coal and fossil fuel facilities, it was developed to help reduce all carbon emissions from escaping into the atmosphere. Right now, less than 1 Mt of carbon is captured annually but efforts have been underway to increase this number.
Canada has recently opened their first carbon capture facility to reduce emissions from the Canadian oil sands back in November.
Coal is a very important commodity, not only because of the energy it produces, but the people it employs. Coal miners, along with the manufacturers that produce their equipment, rely on the world’s dependence to support their livelihood. However, new initiatives surrounding CCS technology could help create opportunities elsewhere. Large CCS projects will require a great deal of machinery for manufacturers to produce as well as a large workforce to keep these facilities up and running. This could help offset the impact the coal industry will face from falling demand.
Coal demand has been on a decline as China turns to new renewable energy sources as well as a global initiative to help reduce carbon emissions. Carbon Collection and Storage technology has been making progress and gaining interest as the world moves away from its dependence on coal. As nations focus on clean burning energy, this trend could continue into the new year and beyond. It is important to understand where the future of energy is heading so businesses that rely on coal realize there are new opportunities for them elsewhere.