Analysis on coal often tends to be one-sided. But to truly understand the important role that coal plays, for better or worse, in the global energy system, it is critical that we examine both sides of the coin. This means understanding the implications of climate agreements on the future for coal while at the same time coming to terms with what coal is doing – and will continue to do – for energy security and energy access in developing and emerging economies.
This means taking a close look at those emerging economies, specifically in South and Southeast Asia. For example, given China’s dominance in coal markets, the main problem for the coal industry is adjusting to how Chinese demand and imports will evolve in the future. In India, already the second largest coal consumer in the world, coal use is expected to grow. Will this trigger imports? Viet Nam, a net exporter until 2014, is building coal power plants at a fast pace. How much coal will they need to import? Where will that coal come from?
Meanwhile, despite an increase in the price of natural gas price in the United States, coal consumption continues to drop. Is this decline inevitable? The last coal plants closed in Belgium and Scotland in 2016 while other European nations have announced the end of coal generation. Is coal going to disappear forever from Europe? At the same time, banks and funds are turning away from coal financing. Will this bring a halt to construction of new coal power plants?
The Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2016 addresses these questions and more, providing insight into the drivers of coal demand, supply and trade through 2021.