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Coal’s Future Is Murky But The Need For Investment In Carbon Capture Is Clear

The world may recognize that burning coal is adding greenhouse gases. But the fuel is still set to grow as a percentage of electricity generation: For two straight years it will tick up before flattening out for five years. While it may decline slightly after that, its continued presence means carbon capture and storage is needed.

That’s according to the International Energy Agency in Paris, which says that coal consumption in the globe’s most economically advanced countries is falling. But that progress is being offset by strong growth in India and Southeast Asia where it is affordable and where economies are in growth mode. India, for example, will see a 3.9% increase per year in coal consumption. Increases are also expected in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Pakistan.

China, however, is a different story: The agency is predicting a 3% decline in coal consumption going forward. In fact, the country’s National Energy Administration reported this week that it will close about 8,600 megawatts of coal capacity by year-end, which is equal to about 1% of its energy mix. Coal makes up about 59% of China’s electricity portfolio, a bit less than in previous years.

Renewables, in comparison, comprise 20% of its electricity base and they are set to expand to 35% by 2030. For China, its ultimate goal is to have wind and solar compete with coal without the benefit of government subsidies, all by 2024. And BP said in its annual energy review