Forecasters have been wrong before about discounting coal’s staying power
With the COP28 climate summit now in the rearview mirror, some researchers say the moment is here when coal consumption in power plants around the world will finally peak before beginning a perpetual fall. For more than a century, coal has been used to produce electricity, and to this day remains the workhorse of the global power sector and a critical part of the world’s economy.
Coal is the dirtiest, most-polluting fossil fuel, but it has proven difficult for the world to turn its back on the stalwart source of energy. Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie is forecasting 2024 as the year when the world’s consumption of coal will hit a final inflection point before decreasing.
That forecast is largely based on the potential for China’s economy to rebound over the next 12 months, which could drive up the use of coal in the country’s power plants. “Coal just has a lot of staying power,” said Natalie Biggs, head of thermal coal markets at Wood Mackenzie.
Forecasters have been wrong about coal before. This isn’t the first time Wood Mackenzie has predicted the world would reach peak coal demand; it made the same forecast in 2013.
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