WEO Week: Sectoral transitions to new energy industries
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Coal

Coal supplies over one-third of global electricity generation and plays a crucial role in industries such as iron and steel.

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Key findings

Year-on-year quarterly change of coal consumption by region, 2020

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Worldwide coal demand dropped 11% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020

Worldwide coal demand dropped 11% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020 owing to mild weather, competitive gas prices and Covid-related lockdowns in China. In the second quarter, China eased its lockdowns and its economy began to recover, but lockdowns and related restrictive measures spread to other big economies, pulling global coal demand down 7.5% year-on-year. Through the rest of the year, an increasing number of countries eased their lockdowns and their economies rebounded, with coal consumption keeping pace, particularly in China and India.

Share of coal-fired power generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2040

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Coal-fired power is not on track

After three years of growth and a record high of over 10 000 TWh in 2018, coal-fired power generation dropped by 3% in 2019. Although coal generation plummeted in the United States and Europe, growth in China and other parts of Asia kept coal firmly in place as the largest source (36%) of power generation. That said, spending on coal-fired power reached a decade low and final investment decisions for new plants continued to decline. Preliminary IEA analysis indicates a sharp drop in power sector coal demand in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with coal showing the greatest uncertainty of all fuels used for power. Looking ahead, coal-fired generation without CCUS needs to decrease 5.3% per year to 2030 to be in line with the SDS.

Reports

Our work

The FBC TCP provides a framework for international collaboration on energy technology development and deployment of the fluidized bed conversion of solid fuels applied to clean energy. The main activity of the FBC TCP is technical exchange during meetings and workshops. Participants carry out research on operational issues in support of commercial fluidized bed conversion activities and share results. Fluidized bed conversion offers several advantages over pulverized fuel combustion, notably low emissions and the ability to burn a wide range of fuels including waste and biomass.

Founded in 1991, the remit of the GHG TCP is to evaluate options and assess the progress of carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions derived from the use of fossil fuels, biomass and waste. The aim of the TCP is to help accelerate energy technology innovation by ensuring that stakeholders from both the public and private sectors share knowledge, work collaboratively and, where appropriate, pool resources to deliver integrated and cost-effective solutions.

The CCC TCP provides independent information and analysis on all coal related trends and all aspects of coal production, transport, processing and utilisation within the rationale for balancing security of supply, affordability and environmental issues. Topics include efficiency improvements, lowering greenhouse gas and non-greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water stress, ensuring poverty alleviation through universal access to robust and reliable electricity, together with other sustainability and socially led goals.