Global electricity production from coal on track for record fall this year

Global electricity production from coal on track for record fall this year

Global electricity production from coal is on track to fall by around 3% in 2019, the largest drop on record, according to a new report from UK website Carbon Brief.

The drop would amount to a reduction of around 300 terawatt hours (TWh), more than the combined total output from coal in Germany, Spain and the UK last year.

The analysis is based on monthly electricity sector data from around the world for the first seven to 10 months of the year, depending on data availability in each country.

The study found record falls in developed countries, including Germany, the EU overall and South Korea, which are not being matched by increases elsewhere. The largest reduction is taking place in the US, as several large coal-fired power plants close.

A sharp turnaround in India was also reported, where coal power output is on track to fall for the first time in at least three decades.

In China, electricity demand growth has slowed to 3% this year, down from 6.7% over the past two years. Non-fossil energy sources have met almost all this demand growth.

In the past three and a half decades, only two other years have seen declining coal power output: a fall of 148TWh in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis; and a 217TWh cut in 2015 following a slowdown in China.

Other interesting statistics from the report show that the global average utilisation of coal-fired power plants is on track to hit an all-time low this year, affecting the profitability of both existing and planned capacity.

Seaborne thermal coal trade amounts to 19% of the total dry bulk volumes shipped, according to data contained in the latest issue of Splash Extra, published today.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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