Asian and African countries are counting on the hydrocarbon to expand access to electricity
Coal is clinging to the top spot in power generation, accounting for as much of the world’s electricity as it did two decades ago, despite heightened concerns about climate change and a slowdown in financing for projects involving the dirtiest of fossil fuels.
U.S. exports of coal more than doubled in 2017 and are set to grow this year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Countries across Asia and Africa are expected to increase their use of coal for expanding power generation through 2040, says the EIA.
The rebound shows coal’s resilience, especially in emerging regions, and recent events suggest the market for black combustible rock will remain strong. In the U.S., the Trump administration has proposed to reverse U.S. rules on coal emissions, and countries including India and Vietnam are planning major coal projects.
Coal accounted for 38% of the world’s electric power generation in 2017, putting it at the same level as in 1998, according to a recent report by BP PLC. A revival of the thermal coal market last year helped to lift mining companies’ earnings and share prices. Among them was Glencore PLC, one of the world’s largest mining concerns. In March, it spent $1.7 billion for coal assets in Australia as part of a bet that demand for coal in Southeast Asia will remain robust.
Meanwhile, global carbon emissions from coal and other fossil fuels increased by 1.4% in 2017 after three flat years. The rise is attributed to economic growth and increasing energy demand in Asia, according to the IEA.
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