Coal to remain ‘King’ in Southeast Asia

Guest MSEAGA by David Middleton

Making Southeast Asia Great Again…

‘Coal is still king’ in Southeast Asia even as countries work toward cleaner energy
Huileng Tan


• Not only will coal continue to be the dominant fuel source in power generation in Southeast Asia, its use will grow and peak in 2027 before slowing, according to a Wood Mackenzie study.

• The Indonesian government has targeted generating 23% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 — almost double the 12% now, but it will be “difficult to achieve because capacity expansion plans are still dominated by coal,” Moody’s analysts say.

• Global coal demand grew for a second straight year to reach 0.7% in 2018, International Energy Agency data shows.

Coal is still a dominant fuel in the rapidly growing economies of Southeast Asia, even amid a general global move toward cleaner energy sources, data from several recent reports show.

“The narrative surrounding coal has been pessimistic across the world. This will result in the gradual slowdown of new coal-fired capacity in Southeast Asia,” said Jacqueline Tao, research associate at Wood Mackenzie, a commodity consultancy.

“However, the reality of rising power demand and affordability issues in the region mean that we will only start to see coal’s declining power post-2030,” Tao said on Sept. 25 when the consultancy released a new report.
“Coal is still king in Southeast Asia’s power market,” according to Wood Mackenzie.


Not only will coal continue to be the dominant fuel source in power generation in Southeast Asia, its use will grow and peak in 2027 before slowing, the Wood Mackenzie study found. By 2040, coal will account for 36% of Southeast Asia’s energy mix for power generation, according to the consultancy.

The demand surge is primarily driven by Indonesia and Vietnam, accounting for almost 60% of Southeast Asian power demand by 2040, said Tao.


Problems with renewable energy in Southeast Asia
The expected growth in renewable energy will come even though such energy is “less cost competitive in the region compared to the rest of the world, and (faces) challenges such as land acquisition and intermittency issues,” Tao added.


China and Japan are big investors in coal power
Globally, major coal user China is set to see the country’s use fall 3% by 2023, the IEA noted in its December report.

But even as China seeks to cut politically sensitive air pollution at home, the country has been investing massively in coal projects outside its shores, notably in places linked to the Belt and Road Initiative.
East Asian economic powerhouses Japan and South Korea are also pumping money into the fossil fuel.



Greta needs drive her new Tesla to Asia and pester the folks who are actually destroying her future (as if her parents already haven’t)…

Figure 1. Global coal consumption by region (million tonnes of oil equivalent per year). BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019.

According to the US EIA’s IEO 2019

Figure 2. No Green New Deal here.

—with long-term growth expected in India and non-OECD Asia

•Worldwide coal production holds steady at about 8 billion short tons, or 160 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), per year through 2040. Increased coal use in India and other Asian countries that are not part of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) helps drive consumption to more than 9 billion short tons (175 quadrillion Btu) by 2050.

•In the Reference case, India increases its annual coal production by 2.7% per year from 850 million short tons in 2018 to 2 billion short tons by 2050 to help meet growing domestic demand. India’s coal consumption grows by an average of 3.1% per year, from 1.1 billion short tons (17 quadrillion Btu) in 2018 to 2.9 billion short tons (46 quadrillion Btu) in 2050.

•China remains the largest producer and the largest user of coal, consuming about 3.5 billion short tons (74 quadrillion Btu) in 2050 after peaking at 4.7 billion short tons (nearly 95 quadrillion Btu) in 2013.

•In OECD countries, coal consumption decreases by 2.5% per year from 2018 to 2025, before remaining relatively constant throughout the remainder of the projection period.

Figure 3. No Green New Deal down under either.

—and Australia and Indonesia remain the largest exporters

•World coal trade is projected to grow from 2018 to 2050 at an average rate of 1.4% per year, totaling 2.2 billion short tons by 2050.

•Increasing coal demand in the Asian economies is driving growth in coal trade. India coal imports grow by 4.1% per year, China coal imports remain relatively constant, and the remaining countries in non-OECD Asia increase imports by 1.8% per year. 

•Metallurgical coal trade increases gradually as industrial consumption shifts to India and other countries that have limited or no metallurgical coal production.

•In contrast to Asia, coal imports to the Americas—largely the United States and the other non-OECD America region – grow slowly through 2050.

•The Australia and New Zealand region continues to be the world’s top coal exporter, followed by other non-OECD Asia, which is predominantly accounted for as Indonesia. By 2050, Australia accounts for 33% of global coal exports, and other non-OECD Asia accounts for nearly 35% of global coal exports.


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Bryan A
October 4, 2019 10:13 am

Coal’s usage as an energy source will continue to grow unless and until a less costly alternative of producing power 24/7/365 is created or discovered

Reply to  Bryan A
October 4, 2019 4:10 pm


October 4, 2019 10:22 am

Coal to remain ‘King’ in Southeast Asia

At least these countries still have common sense.

Ron Long
October 4, 2019 10:27 am

Yet China is one of the good countries according to the Greenies, which shows if you are willing to tell grand lies, and send virtue signals to other liars, you are held in high esteem. I just saw on Breitbart that China is responsible for 73% of all garbage dumped in the Atlantic, and it appears (to me) to be deliberate. Greta should go over there and stand in front of a tank and shout “How Dare You” and see how it works out.

George V
Reply to  Ron Long
October 4, 2019 11:37 am

“…if you are willing to tell grand lies, and send virtue signals to other liars, you are held in high esteem.”

Ron, you left off one qualifier for coal-burning countries to be held in high esteem by Greenies: “…and be a communist dictatorship.”

Michael Burns
October 4, 2019 11:32 am

Coal is a good idea, a great source of energy, but they simply need to create some technology that cancels and negates emissions — acid rain can be a bad thing on forests and health.

To find ways to clean the emissions of everything harmful but the Co2. We need 800 ppmv to be healthy.

Take out the sulphur, it creates acid rain, the lead and mercury are dangerous to human health; arsenic at roughly 15ppm can be bad stuff.
Selenium is good at 3 to 5 ppm that would help with asthma, Crohn’s disease, infertility. And the on-going madness…we have less dandruff, skin cancer and prostate cancer and with the increased Co2 of say 800 ppm, things would get bigger and better, more drought-resistant and corn cobs the size boat fender buoys.
People would grow eventually to roughly 9 to ten feet at average height.
Yes, definitely more coal.

Reply to  Michael Burns
October 4, 2019 3:42 pm

Coal scrubbers already remove the pollutants you list.

Rain is naturally acidic.
Decades of blaming emissions suddenly vanished when the coal emissions were clean, yet rain is still acidic.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  ATheoK
October 5, 2019 3:25 am

I recall many years ago when Acid Rain, a evil unnatural by-product of equally evil wealth producing Free-Enterprise Capitalism, the “scientists” studied a couple of Scandanavian Lakes, designated as suffering from Acid Rain. Turned out the lakes were naturally acidic as a result of the naturally acidic surrounding soils & sub-soils leaching into the water! The programme was never aired again, curiously!

Reply to  Michael Burns
October 5, 2019 7:43 am

Michael says:
they simply need to create some technology that cancels and negates emissions

Scrubbers do it, but a better scheme is a redesign of coal boilers — fluidized bed coal plants. But research/improvement of this design or ANYTHING coal has been virtually abandoned because of the suffocating regulations on coal.

Bruce Cobb
October 4, 2019 11:39 am

“However, as more banks shun the financing of coal projects amid government commitments to turn to cleaner energy sources, renewable energy is expected become more pervasive.”
They are assuming that the CAGW ideology, which is in its death throes will be successful. So their “forecast” on coal use in southeast Asia, and elsewhere is likely very much on the low side. Once the ruse of unaffordable unreliables has been exposed, coal could be making a comeback.

Rolf Mellberg
October 4, 2019 12:46 pm

I’m a lukewarmer when it comes to CO2 and just in case …. we better boost nuclear forth gen. Maybe this will do?

October 4, 2019 2:16 pm

How do you get a 3% decrease while building a new plant a month?

David Chappell
Reply to  TRM
October 4, 2019 7:41 pm

By using touchy-feely woke mathematics:

David L. Hagen
October 4, 2019 2:19 pm

Chinese Companies Seek to Build 300-500 Coal Plants
Will China’s economic pragmatism continue by building more coal power plants across the developing world?
Or will it be constrained by political climate promises?

China’s power industry calls for hundreds of new coal power plants by 2030

The largest power producers in China have asked the government to allow for the development of between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by 2030 in a move that could single-handedly jeopardise global climate change targets. . . .
In its review of the government’s five-year-plan, China Electricity Council (CEC) – the influential industry body representing China’s power industry – recommended adopting a ‘cap’ for coal power capacity by 2030 — but the 1300GW limit proposed is 290GW higher than current capacity. The target is for the country’s coal-fired capacity to continue to grow until peaking in 2030. . . .
The cap would enable China to build 2 large coal power stations a month for the next 12 years, and grow the country’s capacity by an amount nearly twice the size of Europe’s total coal capacity. . . .
For context, the total German coal/lignite plant capacity is less than 50GW, while in Poland it is below 30 GW. . . .

Context: Black cat, white cat…

Deng Xiaoping famously said “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” This is taken to mean that as long as the economy works, it is a good economy. He spoke these words long before the reform and opening-up of China’s economy, but they have become synonymous with that phenomenon.

Jean Parisot
October 4, 2019 2:47 pm

So, we still have some hope of getting CO2 up to 800ppm.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jean Parisot
October 4, 2019 4:22 pm

Yeah, 800ppm looks very doable. Inevitable, even.

Reply to  Jean Parisot
October 4, 2019 6:31 pm

We’ll need it once the glaciation resumes. I don’t want to get down anywhere near 170-180 like we did during the last one. Way too close for comfort.

October 4, 2019 3:44 pm

Renewable even withe short term battery backup is still a expensive way to provide intermittent energy.

Whereas coal, cheap to extract from the earth, even cheaper when its via a open cut as in most of Australia, has one very big advantage, its Natures Battery,

A coal fired power station can have a large pile of coal just sitting there, Hail rain or sunshine, its still a pile of potential energy.

By all means burn it in the most efficient wee, and yes remove the nasties from it. The next step is obviously Nuclear, but that can be in the case of poorer nations a long way down the track.

In the here and now of the real world coal is indeed still King.


October 4, 2019 4:40 pm

Brice Cobb of 44.19.119 is correct in saying that private money, i.e. Banks , will not finance a coal fired power station. While politicians keep tugging their forelock to the Greens in the hope of harvesting a few votes, then money, mostly via the Banks , will go for the big government subsidies for the renewable projects.

Sadly we will have to wait till the economy starts to collapse, then the blame game will start. Finally a right wing government will use taxpayers money to finance the building of more coal fired power stations.

What a way to run a countries economy.


October 4, 2019 6:32 pm

The problem is that Greenpeace is over here with what appears to be a well funded program that pays thousands of poor farmers to protest construction of “dirty” coal fired power plants. How do we get rid of these people? Pls help!


Alan the Brit
Reply to  Chaamjamal
October 5, 2019 5:26 am

If you haven’t quite enough “Useful Idiots” in India/Asia, you’re welcome to as many of ours as you want, please feel free to take them, all you want! 😉

Dennis G Sandberg
October 4, 2019 9:06 pm

American coal-fired power plants built this century are clean. Burdening them with addition regs is a waste of precious limited capital. Virtue signalers will vociferously oppose any coal plant even if it removes 99.9% of emissions.
Copy/paste summary from The Florida Stanton Energy Center website
Generation Units
Environmental Performance
To prevent air pollution, Stanton Energy Center (SEC) uses low-sulfur, low-ash coal and Air sampling has shown that Stanton’s emissions are among the lowest of any coal-fired plant in the nation.
Environmental Protection Measures
Coal burning in the boiler creates gaseous and particulate (solid) by-products called flue gas. Particulates, Nitric Oxides (NOx), and Sulfur Oxides (S02) are present in the flue gas
Unit 2: NOx is controlled by efficient low-NOx burners and Selective Catalytic Reduction equipment (Unit 1 also uses low-NOx burners). Burners are designed to minimize NOx by burning at low temperatures with a minimum amount of turbulence
Units 1 and 2: Particulates are controlled in an electrostatic precipitator. This equipment electrically charges the solid particles (fly ash) so that they will be attracted to oppositely charged plates.
S02 is controlled by a wet limestone scrubber. In the scrubber, a limestone and water slurry (scrubber slurry) is sprayed over the flue gas.. The spent scrubber slurry is transported away for the disposal process.
The fly ash removed in the electrostatic precipitator and the spent scrubber sludge from the flue gas scrubber are mixed with lime. Adding lime to this mixture causes the material to harden much like concrete.. After placement, this material is compacted, contoured, covered with topsoil and seeded.
Material deposited in this landfill is environmentally stable. Since it is essentially impervious, it will not contaminate the groundwater.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
October 5, 2019 3:56 pm

There is no environmental reason to oppose coal-fired power plants that meet current EPA regs. The problem is economic. The capital outlay to meet the regs prevents coal from competing with natural gas in the USA. In countries with large coal deposits, but few natural gas reserves, coal is understandably “Still King.” Small modular nuclear reactors, when they become economically available, can provide for load increase and long-term replacement for aging coal-fired boilers. Solar and wind has no future in sane energy policy.
2017 ARP, CSAPR and MATS at a Glance

• Annual SO₂ emissions:
CSAPR – 0.8 million tons (91 percent below 2005)
ARP – 1.3 million tons (92 percent below 1990)
• Annual NOₓ emissions:
CSAPR – 0.6 million tons (73 percent below 2005)
ARP – 1.0 million tons (84 percent below 1990)
• CSAPR ozone season NOₓ emissions: 300,000 tons (53 percent below 2005)
• Compliance: 100 percent compliance for power plants in the market-based ARP and CSAPR allowance-trading programs.
• Emissions reported under MATS:
Mercury – 4 tons (86 percent below 2010)
Acid gases – 4,831 tons (96 percent below 2010)
Non-mercury metals – 221 tons (81 percent below 2010)
• Ambient particulate sulfate concentrations: The eastern United States has shown substantial improvement, decreasing 33 to 71 percent between 2000–2002 and 2015–2017.
• Ozone NAAQS attainment: Based on 2015–2017 data, all 92 areas in the East originally designated as nonattainment for the 1997 ozone NAAQS are now meeting the standard.
• PM₂.₅ NAAQS attainment: Based on 2015–2017 data, 36 of the 39 areas in the East originally designated as nonattainment for the 1997 PM₂.₅ NAAQS are now meeting the standard (one area has incomplete data).
• Wet sulfate deposition: All areas of the eastern United States have shown significant improvement with an overall 64 percent reduction in wet sulfate deposition from 2000–2002 to 2015–2017.
• Levels of acid neutralizing capacity (ANC): This indicator of recovery improved (i.e., increased) significantly from 1990 levels at lake and stream monitoring sites in the Adirondack region, New England and the Catskill mountains.

Flight Level
October 4, 2019 11:29 pm

Even Arnold procures a Tesla to Greta. So by now the virtue signaling is achieved on water and land.

Remember Bertrand Piccard, the Solar Impulse (HB-SIA) guy? Who was very vocal on anything solar and achieved the lowest average multiengine kite speed on record?

How comes he remains so silent and not part the effort of hauling Greta?

October 5, 2019 1:01 am

Well in theory Japan is planning another 30 to 36 new coal plants… but is that really going to happen?

Certainly they are going to be limited to (expensive) high efficiency plant…

And the govt is under considerable pressure to reduce coal – I don’t know if the environment minister’s pledge to make fighting climate change ‘sexy’ will have any effect. (the mind boggles…)

Korea is certainly clamping down on coal over pollution issues..

Coal is fighting a rearguard action in SE Asia..

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