Since the 1880’s coal has been burned to generate electricity. Since then coal has largely dominated energy generation around the world! But, recent projections have suggested that coal is on a tipping point. A decline in global coal use could mean the end for coal.
The fuel that once powered the industrial revolution now has no place in the world as the renewable revolution takes charge. And it’s pretty clear that everyone knows it! In this post we’ll sum up some key points about the potential decline of coal. Hopefully, you’ll get a better idea of why and how it could be on the verge of collapsing.
So, Is coal power declining?
Why coal? What makes it so popular?
Well, putting it bluntly, it’s cheap and it’s plentiful! Not only is it cost effective and abundant but it also provides a way for people to earn, creates jobs and stimulates stagnant or stunted economies.
Since its first use in the UK, coal, in it’s abundance, quickly became a way for companies and governments to expand their markets. They could do so very quickly as well. And as if to add more fuel to the coal fire, it was very very profitable. As a result, entire electricity networks and grids were designed specifically for coal! The UK has one such network though it can be, kind of, flexible. So, yet again, coal proved to not only be of great profit to companies and governments alike, but also provide jobs, stability and electricity for all.
Though, very soon coal will become obsolete. The concept of investing in coal will become nonsensical! The decision to invest or back coal will become so uninviting to investors and backers that coal will be wiped out of our electricity systems! As solar and wind become more affordable than coal (and they are!) the investment and continued use of coal would make very little economic sense, it would be a very foolish decision!
Despite the rise of renewables, we may not see a rapid decline in coal immediately. This is for one simple reason. Stability! Solar is at the whims of the sun and wind will need windy weather to generate electricity. Even then, it usually isn’t near as much power as coal would generate.
So, how is coal falling?
We’ve sort of discussed the why but we haven’t covered the how. How exactly is it falling then? Global coal power is projected to fall by 3% in 2019! This has a lot of people asking the question; Is coal power declining?
I know this doesn’t seem like a lot and in terms of decarbonisation, it really isn’t! But it’s a start. The 3% accounts for around 300TWh of coal generation globally. According to my own calculations (so it may not be completed accurate!) that is roughly around 101 million tonnes of CO2 out of our atmosphere!
The coal reduction is mostly due to developed countries around the globe reducing their coal consumption. The US, EU and South Korea are notable examples of why industry experts think it’s all over for coal!
So, it would seem that coal is right on the tipping point. Many experts have said that it’s too close to call in their opinions, so let’s keep out fingers crossed!