The End of Coal Could Be Closer Than It Looks


The End of Coal Could Be Closer Than It Looks

The world’s electrical utilities need to reduce coal consumption by at least 60 percent over the two decades through 2030 to avoid the worst effects of climate change that could occur with more than 1.5 degrees Celsius(2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced Monday.

Such a target seems wildly ambitious: Even Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which tends to be more optimistic than other analysts (and more accurate) about the speed of energy transition, expects coal-fired generation to increase by 10 percent over the period. Hold on though. Is it really such a stretch?

After all, U.S. coal-power generation decreased by about a third in the seven years through 2017, to 12.7 billion British thermal units from 18.5 billion, based on data from energy-market consultancy Genscape Inc.

In the European Union, black-coal generation fell by about the same proportion over just four years through 2016, according to Eurostat, to 385,925 gigawatt-hours from 544,279 GWh.

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