According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) coal accounts for 20% of the primary energy supply in OECD countries. If you consider world consumption, coal accounts for 50% of the increase in energy use between 2000-2010. Not surprisingly 66% of the growth in demand for energy has come from Asia with China leading the world in coal production and consumption – some interesting facts:
1. China mines over 3 billion tonnes of coal per year – that is x3 when compared to USA
2. 80% of China’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants
3. Burning coal is the biggest cause of air pollution.
4. By 2030 China is likely to consume 4.4 billion tonnes of coal.
5. From 2005 – 2030 – Carbon emissions are expected to increase from 6.8bn – 15bn tonnes
India also uses significant amounts of coal – 70% of its electricity comes form coal. It has 5th largest coal reserves globally but cannot extract it quick enough to satisfy the demand. However its emissions will increase by 250% by 2030.
In the emerging Asian economies the drive for more coal-fired power continues to steam ahead. Unfortunately alternative forms of energy don’t offer affordable electricity on a large enough scale to satisfy the Asian economies insatiable demand for energy. Natural gas which emits less carbon could be an option, but it will not take over from coal. Look out for those negative externalities – see graph below from Tutor2u.net.