IEA: China and India to Fuel Further Rise in Global Coal Demand in 2018
By Daisy Dunne
The IEA's Coal 2018 report finds that global coal demand grew by 1 percent in 2017 after two years of decline. The rise was chiefly driven by global economic growth, it says. Despite recent growth, demand is still below "peak" levels seen in 2014.
Demand is likely to "remain stable" until 2023, the report authors say. This is because falling demand in western Europe and North America is likely to be offset by increased demand in a host of Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Carbon Brief takes a look at the IEA's changing coal forecasts for key world regions.
Each year, the IEA publishes a series of six-year forecasts for key energy markets. For example, the Coal 2018 report looks at the market for the fossil fuel out to 2023, broken down by country and sector.
This year's report leads with the news that global coal demand returned to growth in 2017 after two years of decline. It is likely that demand will continue to grow in 2018, said Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security at the IEA. He told a press briefing:
"The global coal demand declined in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, it rebounded, and our estimates suggest it will grow in 2018 too. However, this is very different to the growth we saw earlier in the decade."
In other words, global coal demand is growing, but is still below "peak" levels seen in 2014. Actual demand is shown in red on the chart below, with each year's IEA forecast shown in shades of blue. (Note that the y-axis does not start at zero.)
The further expected increase to demand in 2018 is thought to be "driven by strong coal power generation in China and India," the report says.
The chart also shows how, in 2016, global coal demand fell to a level lower than expected by the IEA's projections.
This year's six-year forecast is the first to project a small decline in global coal demand by 2021—suggesting IEA is moving away from forecasting ongoing growth in demand.
The change in forecast reflects the fact that "we are in a different world" to when the IEA made its first coal projections in 2011, said Carlos Fernández Alvarez, a senior energy analyst at the IEA. He told Carbon Brief:
"In 2011, the big question about coal was when Chinese coal consumption would peak. Given the sheer size of China and of Chinese growth, this meant that the world's coal consumption would also grow. Now, we are in a different world. Not only owing to changes in China, but many other things have happened in the meantime, such as the shale revolution, the renewable costs decline and the Paris Agreement—so our forecast has also changed."
The projected plateau and slow decline of global demand in the coming years is partly the result of efforts to move away from coal in western Europe and North America, the authors say.
The map below, which is taken from page 89 of the report, gives an idea of how coal phase-out plans currently look across Europe.
On the map, light green shows countries that have no coal power plants, dark green shows out where phase-out has been planned for 2020-30, orange shows where a phase-out has been discussed and scarlet is used for countries with no phase-out policy.
Differences in coal phase-out policy in countries across Europe. Light green shows countries that have no coal power plants, dark green shows where phase-out has been planned for 2020-30, orange shows where a phase-out has been discussed and scarlet is used for countries with no phase-out policyCoal 2018, IEA
The map paints a picture of "two Europes," the report says. In western Europe, specific policies for a coal phase out combined with action on climate change, including through the EU Emissions Trading System, is likely to hit coal demand hard, the report says:
"By 2023, at least two more countries, France and Sweden, will have closed their last coal power plants, and Germany will be the only significant coal consumer remaining in western Europe."
Across the EU, coal consumption declined by 1.1 percent to 627m tonnes in 2017. Consumption of thermal coal—which is used in power generation—dropped by a sharp 7 percent from 2016 to 188m tonnes, while coking coal—which is used in steel production—remained flat. Lignite use for power generation increased 2 percent to 381m tonnes.
However, in eastern Europe—where coal demand remains level—most countries have not announced phase-out policies, the report says, and new coal power plants are under construction in the Balkans, Greece and Poland.
The report projects that, in the EU, coal demand will drop 2.5 percent per year, from 325m tonnes of coal equivalent (mtce) in 2017 to 280 mtce in 2023. (Coal equivalent is a standardized measure of the energy obtained from burning coal.)
By this point, it will have taken 30 years for coal consumption to drop by half, the report notes, "indicating the resiliency of coal as an energy resource."
Looking across the whole of Europe, however, brings a different forecast. Coal demand is expected to fall at a rate of 1.3 percent—owing to demand remaining stable in eastern Europe and potentially increasing in Turkey, the report says.
In the U.S., coal demand dropped by 2.6 percent to 641m tonnes in 2017. However, this decline is less rapid than in the last two years, likely reflecting a slow-down in the closure of coal power stations, the report says. Coal retirements have returned to near-record levels in 2018.
In China, the world's largest coal producer, demand rose by 10m tonnes to 3,664m tonnes in 2017, following three years of decline. This rise was largely fueled by an increase in coal-fired power generation, the report says.
However, the IEA projects a decline in coal demand to 2,673 mtce by 2023. This is owed to expected declines of coal consumption by key industries, such as steel.
Another expected driver of falling demand in China is the country's "Blue Sky" policy—an action plan for cutting air pollution across large cities. The policy has seen several cities, including Beijing, introduce bans on residents burning coal for heat. The report says:
"Environmental policies, and in particular clean-air measures, constrain coal demand. The main target of the policy action is to reduce direct coal use and small boilers in residential heating, as well as in the commercial and industrial sectors. Cement, steel and small power producers are also targeted in China's air-quality campaign."
These measures, along with China's commitment to investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, led the IEA to project an overall decline in demand in China—despite the growth seen in 2017. The report says:
"Considering all these moving pieces, we maintain the forecast in last year's report that China's coal demand has entered a slow but structural decline at less than 1% per year on average."
The world's greatest percentage increase in coal power demand (5.4 percent) is expected to occur in Southeast Asia—where demand is projected to rise from 186 mtce in 2017 to 259 mtce in 2023.
Demand growth is expected to be highest in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, the report says:
"Although these countries differ considerably in energy resource endowment, they share robust economic growth, a rising population and an expanding middle class, all of which boost power demand. As coal-based power is expected to cover a significant share of the additional demand … considerable new coal-fired capacity is set to come online in these four countries."
In India, demand is expected to rise from 563 mtce in 2017 to 708 mtce in 2023. The chief driver of this demand is a growing desire for coal-fired power, fueled by ongoing infrastructure development and the expansion of the country's middle class, the report says.
Coal demand in India is also expected to grow as a result of expansion in key industries, such as cement and sponge iron production. By 2023, India's non-power coal consumption is expected to rise by 33 mtce to 163 mtce.
However, demand is expected to rise more slowly than in the previous decade, the report says. This is largely down to investment in renewable sources of power, the report says.
The IEA expects the proportion of electricity from renewable sources to double to 25 percent of the total power mix by 2023. The Indian government is aiming to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar by 2022 and 50GW of wind—double the wind capacity of 2017 and four times the solar capacity. The report says:
"The large-scale ongoing renewable expansion and the use of supercritical technology in new coal power plants will slow coal demand growth, which will grow by less than 4% per year through 2023, compared to over 6% on average per year in the past decade."
In addition to growing more slowly than in the recent past, India's coal demand has fallen short of earlier IEA forecasts. This year, the IEA has once again cut its forecast for coal demand growth in India.
World's Largest Coal Miner Says It's a 'Matter of Time' for Renewables to Replace Coal https://t.co/H27q16RWT1… https://t.co/wj1kOI59f2— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1519677947.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Carbon Brief.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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