Currently, the trend is towards renewable and less polluting energies. However, fossil fuels are still mainly used, particularly in Asia, as they are primarily owned in developing countries to promote economic recovery.
A priori, everyone wants to turn away from him, but he still remains dominant.
“Of course, the reduction in coal will happen, but we’re still starting from a base that means it won’t collapse overnight,” summed up in BFM Business on Friday Francis Perrin, director of research at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) and specializes in energy issues. It is still the second largest source of energy in the world after the oil king “.
And with the economic recovery and natural gas shortage, coal prices are currently at an all -time high. In one year, prices exploded: 166 dollars per tonne of Australian coal, a higher increase than oil in the same period. And above all the demand is driven by Asia.
China, too greedy for coal
“Asia is now 80% of the world’s coal consumption”, continued Francis Perrin. And on the mainland, one country stands out: China. It alone makes up 54% of global coal consumption. In comparison, the European Union and the United States represent only 10% of this consumption.
The country has even started closed coal mines. “With the strong economic recovery in 2021 and a horrible year 2020, we need a lot of energy to keep the economic engine running at full speed”, explains the research director at Iris.
Authorities want to avoid energy or electricity shortages. “If for that, it is necessary to use coal, and more coal, at a time considered transitional, well we will do it, and then too bad for the beautiful eyes of the planet”, believes Francis Perrin.
Another reason also explains this rise in prices and China’s reopening of some mines: the trade war the country has been waging with Australia in recent weeks. China no longer wants to import Australian coal and is therefore looking for other sources of supply, if possible on its soil. One way to guarantee its independence in energy but above all in lowering prices.
Is energy transfer still possible?
However, it is not certain that these reopens will be enough to bring down prices. The strong demand for coal is actually also driven by another major country on the continent: India. As in China, India’s leaders want to allow as many people as possible to have access to resources and coal is the most effective way to achieve this.
An approach that doesn’t necessarily hide the turn towards renewables. “China is the world leader in terms of electricity production from solar and wind power”, defined the specialist on energy issues.
In early August, the IPCC, the UN group of climate experts, published a report emphasizes the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit damage to the planet. A warning that seems to contradict the trend of these large countries to use fossil fuels.
But Francis Perrin remains optimistic and remembers that energy transfer doesn’t happen overnight: “it takes time for it to gain momentum”. The shortage of coal stocks is also one of the criteria leading China to rethink its energy model.
“China is the world leader in terms of electricity production from solar and wind power”, underlined the specialist on energy issues.
“We must not bury the desire to reduce emissions, Francis Perrin continues. But we must be realistic and we must not think that we can eliminate the three energies, including coal, which represent more than 80% of global consumption. of energy.