Every year, BP produces a series of reports that highlight and forecast trends in the world’s energy mix. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, issued last month, is an annual report that records how the energy sector fared over previous years.
This year, the report led with the growth in coal consumption in a number of regions. In China, there was small uptick, while the most significant growth is happening in India and Southeast Asia.
We know that for India, like many countries, coal is imperative for its expanding and industrialising economy. It is therefore no surprise that it continues to depend on a fuel resource that is readily available and affordable.
As more people move into cities and economies develop, the more all energy sources will be needed. For many countries and governments, it will not be an either-or situation, they don’t have the luxury to pick and choose, they will need all energy sources to meet their energy needs.
India and China are good examples of this. While both countries increased their renewable energy resources, they also increased their coal consumption. In 2017, global coal consumption grew by 25 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe); 18 Mtoe of those is the attributed growth in India while 4 Mtoe is the growth in coal consumption in China.
There is often the assumption that if we get rid of coal we can meet climate objectives. However, coal is not the problem, emissions are. So instead of trying to eliminate coal in order to reduce emissions we should be addressing the emissions from coal, something that will help significantly towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s “well below 2 degree” target.
The technology exists: high efficiency low emissions coal (HELE) and carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) are technologies that significantly reduce emissions from coal. CCUS has a proven 90% CO2 capture rate, while scope exists for future CCUS projects to have much improved capture rates, including zero-emissions from coal.
Given the reality of growing coal use, it’s imperative that these technologies are fully utilised and more widely deployed.