Good news for Adani?
Devil in the detail of IEA report into demand for thermal coal over next 5 years
Wednesday 20 December 2017
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) outlook for thermal coal over the next five years paints a confusing picture for Australia, with total demand stagnating, but local demand spiking.
According to the IEA global demand for thermal coal has fallen around 4% in the last two years, reflecting increased competition from gas and other renewable energy sources.
While similar falls were seen in the 1990’s, the IEA’s Keisuke Sadamori predicts thermal coal demand has probably peaked for the foreseeable future.
“By 2022, global coal demand is expected to reach 5,530 Mtce, the same as the average of the last five-year period, meaning that coal use will have had a decade-long period of stagnation,” he said.
“The share of coal in the global energy mix is forecast to decline to 26% in 2022, from 27% in 2016 because of sluggish demand compared with other fuels, although coal-fired power generation increases by 1.2% per year through the same period.
"With a more diversified fuel mix, and the cost of technology going down, everything else is changing, but global thermal coal demand remains the same.”
However, despite that prediction, the IEA also thinks demand from South East Asia - an increasingly important destination for Australian thermal coal - will increase significantly.
“Coal demand dropped in China, the United States and the European Union in 2016, but increased in India and across many parts of Southeast Asia, and shows no signs of slowing down, “ they said.
“For instance, despite the rapid growth in renewables, Indian coal-fired power generation is expected to grow almost 4% a year through to 2022.”
The IEA predicts China will remain a critical player in the thermal coal market but says the politics surrounding their coal mines makes it impossible to predict what might happen.
However, the forecasts are in stark contrast to a research report undertaken two years ago by the International Energy Agency and funded by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) which found there was more than 1,000 low emission coal-fired power stations planned or under construction across Asia.
“Six hundred and seventy of these generation units are already operating in Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Moreover, there are an additional 1,066 now under construction or planned, which is the equivalent of 24 times Australia’s current coal-fired generation, and is the fastest expansion and modernisation of coal-fired generation in history.”
According to the MCA, emissions from HELE coal-fired power stations are about 25% less than an average operating power station now, and around 40% less than the oldest power stations still in operation.
Further, the MCA says that if all coal-fired powered stations were updated with the latest technology, it would reduce carbon output by two billion tonnes - an amount equal to roughly India’s total current emissions and 53 times more effective than Europe's emissions trading scheme.