The total use of coal fired electricity around the world is on track for a record fall in use this year. The past 40 years have seen a pretty much uninterrupted growth in the use of coal fired electricity which has massively contributed to the climate crisis.
It is expected that coal fired electricity will fall by about 3% this year, which is more than the equivalent combined coal fired electricity production from the UK, Spain and Germany in 2018. It is hoped that this fall will help slowdown the rising carbon emissions the world has been seeing.
The fall in use of coal fired electricity is thought to emerge this year as India has a decreasing reliance on coal power for the first time in at least 30 years and the demand in coal power in China is starting to plateau. Both these countries are reducing their use of coal powered electricity as their economies are slowing down in growth. The increase in renewable power options is also reducing the need for coal power plants.
It is also expected that there will be a decreased coal fired power usage in the European Union and the United States as the developed economies start using more renewable forms of energy.
Only 2 times in the past 4 decades has the world’s annual coal fired electricity production decreased. In 2009 it fell after the global financial crisis and again in 2015 as China had a slowdown in their coal fired power plants due to deadly air pollution levels rising.
The researchers found that the coal fired power generation in China was plateauing as the coal power plants have been running at record low rates, even though the amount of coal power plants in china has been increasing. The equivalent of 1 large new coal fired power plant is constructed in China every two weeks, however the coal power plants in China are running only 48.6% of the time, states the report. This compares with a world average of 54%.
This record fall in coal fired power electricity comes after another recent report stated that China are building coal power plants five times faster than what the rest of the world are decreasing their coal fired capacity.
Coal fired power capacity well by about 8 gigawatts from the start of 2018 until June of 2019, however in the same period of time China increased its installed coal fired power capacity by 42.9 gigawatts.
Even though the record coal fired electricity generation reduction looks good, researchers have warned that coal usage is still way too high to meet the Paris climate agreements and more needs to be done to reduce how much coal is used.
The United States have made the biggest reduction of any developed nation in cutting out coal power. They have achieved this by closing down coal power plants in favour of renewable energy and gas power plants. By the end of August in 2019, the US had cut down its coal energy usage by 14 %, compared with the same time period in 2018.
The European Union also recorded a record reduction in coal powered electricity in the first 6 months of 2019. The trend is expected to continue for the latter half of the year, leading to an average of a 23 % reduction in the whole of 2019. The EU is using less coal power plants in favour of gas plants and renewable energy, much like the US.