Glencore just issued yesterday a Sustainable Development Presentation, in which it’s sort of warned demand for coal will continue to grow. For those expecting to live to see an all-renewables world, the news would certainly be bad. The thing is, global demand for whatever in the coming years will be driven by the so-called emerging markets and these markets, being emerging, cannot really afford to spend heavily on renewables. They can afford coal, however, and will continue to build coal-fired power plants. They will also, says Glencore’s head of coal Andrew Fikkers in a climate change report (ironic, I know), continue to need more coal for steel, chemicals, and cement.
The world’s population is projected in Glencore’s report to grow at a rate of 17.3% between 2013 and 2030 — guess which parts of the world will lead this growth? It will, by the way, spur energy demand growth by 16% over the next 14 years. In light of these projections, coal demand growth at a rate of 7% becomes perfectly understandable.
What Glencore is projecting is in keeping with the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s New Policy scenario for the future. It’s pretty disheartening: coal will continue to represent 26% of the global energy mix until 2030, with demand at 8.7 billion tons of coal equivalent, up from 8.2 billion tons in 2013. Renewables, on the other hand, will constitute just 4% of said mix. That’s right, 4%, which is a significant increase on 2013’s 1%. Biofuels will account for 10.5% from 10% in 2013.
So, that’s the way it is: coal and oil (28% of the global energy mix) will continue to dominate world energy, regardless of activism and bona fide attempts to unhook ourselves from fossil fuels.