Old King Coal is slowly choking to death on his own NOx and SOx.
Coal still plays a major part in the global energy mix, making up 29% of total energy consumption in 2015. However at long last its role is in decline. Global coal consumption fell in 2015 and when the data is released it may well have fallen in 2016 as well.
Coal consumption dropped by a massive 52% in the UK last year, thanks to the big increase in the Carbon Price Floor (a carbon tax). In the US coal use fell 11% as cheap gas displaced coal in the power sector. Even China, the World’s biggest coal market, reduced consumption by 4.7% – the third year in a row that consumption has fallen, despite GDP growth of over 6%.
In addition the number of coal-fired power stations in development has halved in the last year. Going forward global coal consumption growth looks set to be very modest at best – BP’s Energy Outlook projects 0.2% per annum growth to 2035 (in contrast to 2.7% p.a. growth over the last 20 years).
The big winners of coal’s slow death are gas and renewables, both of which are growing and displacing demand for coal.
This is all great news for global carbon dioxide emissions, which after many decades of growth are now flat year on year, despite global GDP growth. In 2016 China’s carbon emissions fell by 1%, the US was down by 3% and the UK shrank by 6% – to levels last seen in the 19th Century!
Of the World’s leading economies there is one notable exception. The OECD bad boy who has not been reducing their carbon emissions is Germany.
German carbon emissions were up 0.4%. in 2016. Not a dramatic increase, but once again, despite its staggering costs, the €520 billion ‘Energiewende’ policy is failing to deliver.