Coal claimed the crown of fastest-growing fossil fuel last year, according to the annual BP Energy Outlook. Coal consumption grew by 3% in 2013, while its share of global primary energy consumption reached 30.1% – its highest level since 1970.
Overall, however, growth was well below the ten-year average of 3.9% with China recording the weakest absolute growth since 2008 (although the country still accounted for 67% of global growth). Total non-OECD growth was a below-average 3.7%.
“The big story in coal markets is China,” said Christof Ruehl, BP’s chief economist, at a presentation in Moscow. “New policies to combat local pollution by shutting down coal-intensive production and encouraging coal substitution may have played a part” in cutting the fuel’s dominance to the lowest on record.
In the OECD, consumption increased by 1.4% as growth in the US and Japan offsetting declines in the EU.
On the supply side, production grew by 0.8% – the weakest growth since 2002. Indonesia recorded the highest growth rate at 9.4%, while Australian production was just behind that, growing by 7.3%. This helped to offset a decline of 3.1% in US production and the fact the China recorded its weakest volumetric growth in production since 2000 at 1.2%.
In the long-term, fossil fuel shares in the energy mix are expected to converge at around 27% each for oil, gas and coal by 2035. Coal will be the second-slowest growing fuel after oil with demand rising by an average of 1.1% per year to 2035. Over this period, most growth will happen in the years to 2020: after this, growth will slow to just 0.6% per year to 2035.
Written by Jonathan Rowland
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