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Global coal demand up 0.7% in 2018, largely due to Asia: IEA

London — Global coal demand totaled 3.778 billion tons of oil equivalent (Btoe) in 2018, up 0.7% on the year, bolstered largely by increased use in India and Southeast Asia, according to data released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.

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Coal rode the wave of increased demand from several Asian countries, as global energy demand grew by 2.3%, the IEA said in its Global Energy & CO2 Status Report.

Coal's share of total energy demand totaled 26%, second only to oil at 31%, according to the data. Gas totaled 23% of total energy demand, but grew at a 4.6% rate in 2018, compared with coal's 0.7%, the agency said.

Coal's share of total electricity generation totaled 10,116 TWh, up 2.6% from 2017, as it commanded 38% of total generation around the world. Gas had the second highest share of total electricity generation at 23%, or 6,091 TWh.

Increased growth was seen largely in Asian countries -- China, India and a few countries in South and Southeast Asia -- where coal largely outpaced natural gas.

Coal consumption increased by 1% in China, although strong growth in the power sector was "partially offset" by a drop in the residential and industrial sectors, the IEA said.

China's coal-fired power generation increased by 5.3% in 2018, but coal use in residential and industrial sectors plummeted as the government increased efforts to shift toward natural gas.

Coal demand grew by around 5% in India, as the country upped both its electricity generation and steel production.


In Southeast Asia, coal use "increased significantly" in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, as coal's share in the power mix increased in 2018.

"With coal generation growing faster than power generation, this is the only region where coal's share in the power mix increased in 2018," the IEA said.

Coal-fired power generation dropped by around 1% in Japan and South Korea after increasing over 6% in 2017, the report said, noting no new coal power capacity was commissioned and use fell slightly in Japan.

US coal demand also waned with abundant cheap gas and increased renewables along with an aging fleet contributing factors.

Coal use dropped by over 4% in the US while gas demand grew by over 10%, the IEA said.

"This marked the first time since the start of the shale revolution that gas demand has grown at the expense of coal while gas prices increased," the IEA said.

European demand also dropped 2.6%, largely due to higher renewable countries such as France, Spain and Germany.

The agency forecasts stagnating growth in global coal demand through 2023, with some growth to 2020, followed by a plateau.

--Jeffrey McDonald,

--Edited by Jonathan Dart,