Why Coal Shortages In Asia Might Be Good News For Clean Energy

Power crises in China and India that have caused blackouts and factory shutdowns are highlighting the region’s reliance on the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel: coal. But some experts say the energy supply problems facing two of the world’s largest economies might lead to more support for renewable energy and help to accelerate the sector’s growth.

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China is facing its worst energy crisis in a decade, with coal shortages driving power outages and rationing. India is teetering on the edge of a power crisis, with stocks of coal at unprecedentedly low levels and states warning of impending blackouts. Some states, like Rajasthan have scheduled power cuts and several thermal power stations across the country have shut due to shortages.

The issues have been caused by myriad factors, including soaring global coal prices, increasing economic activity, flood and monsoon-related supply disruptions and geopolitical tensions. (China has imposed an unofficial ban on coal from Australia, one of the world’s largest coal exporters.) Experts say that the instability of the coal supply chain is likely to be a boon for clean energy, prompting more investment in the sector. “The investment response I’m expecting will be a doubling or trebling of Indian and Chinese renewable energy installs because the best way to solve a crisis is to remove your energy security problem,” says Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies for Australia and South Asia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Despite global concern about greenhouse gas emissions and urgent calls for action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, much of the Asia-Pacific remains reliant on coal, which is widely considered the most polluting fossil fuel. China and India are the world’s biggest consumers of coal. The fossil fuel accounts for around 70% of India’s electricity generation, while 56% of China’s electricity is generated by burning coal. That has harmful consequences; China is the world’s biggest polluter, and India comes in third, after the U.S.

More than half of all coal consumed globally in 2020 was used in China, making Asia is the largest consumer of coal by region, according to British Petroleum’s (BP) Statistical Review of World Energy 2021. After China and India, Indonesia and Japan were the largest coal consumers in Asia. Added together, the latter two countries consumed more coal than all of Africa in 2020.

Read More: Why China’s Promise to Stop Funding Coal Plants Around the World Is a Really Big Deal


Video: Asian Coal Shortage (The Independent)

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