Dirty coal to remain worldÂ’s top power source

LONDON, ENGLAND - Coal, the dirtiest source of fuel, will remain the world's main source of power until 2030 and nuclear will lose market share, the International Energy Agency said.

Expectations of slower economic growth have led the IEA to downgrade its 2030 world electricity demand forecast to 23,141 terawatt hours (TWh), but the share of coal generated power would rise to 44 percent by 2015 from 41 percent in 2006.

It would stay at that level to 2030.

"Globally, coal-based electricity is projected to rise... to almost 14,600 TWh by 2030, giving rise to significant increases in associated CO2 emissions," the Paris-based agency said in its World Energy Outlook.

Most of the growth was expected in non-OECD countries, such as China, which the IEA expected soon to become the world's biggest electricity consumer. Its demand for power doubled between 2000 and 2006.

The IEA urged stronger policies for carbon capture and storage (CCS), saying the world was likely to make only a minor contribution in the period.

"Market mechanisms alone will not be sufficient to achieve the demonstration program on the scale required. Another challenge is financing the necessary CO2 transport infrastructure," it said.

Despite a global nuclear renaissance sparked by efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, the IEA expected nuclear's share in power generation to drop to 10 percent by 2030 from 15 percent in 2006.

"Over the past few years, a large number of countries have expressed renewed interest in building nuclear power plants," it said. "Few governments, however, have taken concrete steps to build new reactors."

As of the end of August, China topped the list of countries with nuclear power plants under construction, with 5,220 megawatts (MW), followed by India at 2,910 MW and Korea at 2,880 MW.

On a brighter note, the IEA predicted the share of renewable energy to rise to 23 percent by 2030 from 18 percent in 2006.

"Higher fossil fuel prices, increasing concerns over energy security and climate change are expected to encourage the development of renewable energy for electricity," the IEA said.

The agency said high prices would constrain growth in gas-fired generation, although it remained attractive due to lower capital costs and shorter construction time. Its market share was likely to fall slightly from 20 percent.

Looking into per capita electricity demand around the world, the IEA saw a gloomy outlook for some non-OECD countries, despite overall anticipated strong growth.

"A large number of people living there are not expected to have access to electricity even in 2030. India and Africa have the highest number of people in this category," it said.

Per capita electricity consumption in non-OECD countries was likely to rise to almost 2,400 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2030, but the IEA saw it rising only to 671 kWh in Africa from 518. It would rise to 4,776 kWh in China from 1,788 in 2006.


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