Growing gas supplies and more efficient renewable energy systems continue to replace coal as a power resource in many places, but in South and Southeast Asia the fossil fuel will still play a key role in electricity supply for years to come, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
A decline in coal consumption in Europe and North America over the next five years will be offset by “strong growth,” in Asia, the IEA’s Coal 2018 study said.
India will experience the biggest country increase in coal consumption up to 2023, with significant growth in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Pakistan.
The annual rate of thermal power plant (TPP) growth in India is forecast by the IEA to be 3.9% although this will be slower than previously due to rising renewable energy levels.
The Indian government is striving to deliver grid electricity to all Indian homes by the end of this year, but power demand is set to keep rising for at least another decade to fuel industrialization. (See, xxx, page x)
Globally coal’s share of the power sector will slip from 27% of the total at the beginning of 2018 top 25% by 2023, the IEA study forecast. However, coal demand as a fuel for power generation will grow across much of Asia “due to its affordability and availability”.
TPP coal consumption in Southeast Asia will rise by more than 70 million tonnes a year up to 2023 and by 145 million tonnes in India, the study estimated. It will remain fairly constant in Japan and South Korea.
“Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam have more than 800 million people combined, yet their average annual per capita electricity consumption is just one seventh of that in Europe,” the study said. “Increasing coal power generation, supported by new coal plants under construction, will be the main driver of coal demand growth in those countries.”
But while South and Southeast Asia’s coal demand grows China’s is set to fall over the five-year period. While China accounts for nearly half of the world’s coal consumption (14%), its clean-air measures are set to constrain demand and the IEA anticipates it fall by 3% over the five years.