Coal will overtake oil as the key fuel of the global economy by the end of the decade despite global efforts to “go green” as China triggers a surge in demand for the fuel.
Rising demand in the world’s fastest growing economy will spark a 25 per cent rise in coal consumption by 2020 to 4,500 million tonnes of oil equivalent, according to widely respected consultants Wood Mackenzie. This will be enough to top demand for oil, at 4,400 million tonnes.
Speaking at the World Energy Congress, William Durbin, president of global markets at WoodMac said: “China’s demand for coal will almost single-handedly propel the growth of coal as the dominant global fuel.
“Unlike alternatives, it is plentiful and available.”
WoodMac said China alone would drive two-thirds of the forecast growth in coal demand. Half of the power plants expected to built between now and the end of the decade will be coal-fired.
Stripping out demand from China and India, WoodMac pointed out that demand for coal would remain steady.
The claims will likely place yet more pressure on Ministers over the billions of pounds that are due to be spent on green subisidies in the UK over the next seven years to “decarbonise” the environment. Coal prices have plunged to around half the price of gas in Europe following the explosion in US shale gas production yet coal-fired power plants are being de-commissioned in the UK on environmental grounds.
National Grid last week warned Britain was at more risk of winter blackouts this year than at any time for six years as nowhere near enough greener-generation capacity had come on line to take up the strain as older, “dirtier” plants close down.