Global power generation from coal is expected going up 9% in 2021, driven by a rapid economic recovery that has pushed up electricity demand, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). This is undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emission, which was a major content at climate talks in Glasgow.
China consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined
China is responsible for more than half of global coal-fired power generation with an expected 9% increase in 2021. Industries such as cement and steel is expected to grow 6% this year. Next year, the world could even hit a new all-time record. World´s coal burning is concentrated in the northern hemisphere, as the US and Europe offshored steel and manufacturing.
Germany uses more coal, gas and nuclear power than renewables
In Germany, calling itself a pioneer in energy transition, coal, gas and nuclear power are the most important energy sources for producing electricity. More than half of the produced power (56,9%) came from conventional energy sources in the third quarter of the year. 31,9% of applied electricity amount originated from coal, with 22,5% up compared to 2020.
Only 16,6% originated from wind energy, followed by nuclear power (14,2%) and photovoltaics (13,3%). Renewable energies only provided 43,1% of energy used. One reason for that could be spring with very little wind.
Searching for solutions
Germany wants to exit from coal-burning power plants in 2038. The new numbers also uncover the vulnerability to fluctuations of wind and solar power. Green hydrogen could be a solution for this problem, but it is still not widely available at scale. It is made by electrolyzing water using renewable energy.
In Austria, near the city of Graz, energy company Verbund is experimenting with green hydrogen at its natural gas power plant. The gas plant’s main role is to stabilize the national grid, but Verbund hopes its plant can increase its share of the renewable source in its energy mix.
Belgium, Austria and Sweden are among a growing number of European countries that no longer use coal to generate electricity. Austria aims to run fully on renewables, for electricity at least, by 2030.