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Today in Energy

February 8, 2022

EIA analysis considers different outcomes for coal markets in India and Southeast Asia

carbon dioxide emissions from coal in selected countries
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2021, Issues in Focus: Uncertainty in Coal Trade in India and Greater Southeast Asia
Note: Greater Southeast Asia refers to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia countries of the South Pacific.

In our International Energy Outlook 2021 (IEO2021) Issues in Focus: Uncertainty in Coal Trade in India and Greater Southeast Asia, we analyze three cases for coal markets in India and Greater Southeast Asia (GSEA), which highlight the role that varying levels of coal production and trade play in the regions’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and electricity generation mix.

In our Low Coal Demand case, we assume policy or technology changes that result in 33% less coal demand between 2030 and 2050 in the industrial and power sectors of India and GSEA. As a result of less coal demand in the regions, regional coal production grows less, and coal imports decrease. In the Low Coal Supply case, we assume a 50% increase in the cost of coal production, compared with the IEO2021 Reference case, and less available coal supply in India and GSEA. We assume the opposite (a 50% decrease in the cost of coal production) in the High Coal Supply case.

The level of CO2 emissions from coal are directly proportional to coal consumption in these cases. In the IEO2021 Reference case, which assumes no changes to current policies or technologies, coal consumption in India and GSEA reaches a combined 3.2 billion short tons in 2050, and resulting CO2 emissions reach 5.6 billion metric tons.

We project India and GSEA coal demand and emissions in 2050 to differ from the Reference case:

  • Low Coal Demand case, 33% less consumption
  • Low Coal Demand case, 32% less emissions
  • Low Coal Supply case, 15% less consumption
  • Low Coal Supply case, 13% less emissions
  • High Coal Supply case, 15% more consumption
  • High Coal Supply case, 13% more emissions

In all cases, we expect coal consumption and coal-related emissions in India and GSEA to grow from 2020 levels.

electricity generation, India and greater Southeast Asia
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2021, Issues in Focus: Uncertainty in Coal Trade in India and Greater Southeast Asia
Note: Greater Southeast Asia refers to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia countries of the South Pacific.

Although the electricity generated in India and GSEA in 2050 is fairly similar to what we forecast in the IEO2021 Reference case and in our three side cases, the share of generation by generation type varies.

In India, the Low Coal Demand and Low Coal Supply cases both show that renewable sources generate more electricity than in the Reference case; renewables account for 75% of the generation mix by 2050, compared with 67% in the Reference case. In the High Coal Supply case, coal’s share of India’s electricity mix increases to 28% in 2050, compared with 21% in the Reference case, while renewables account for a 60% share.

In GSEA, renewable sources do not displace coal, natural gas, and hydroelectric generation as much as in India. In the Reference case, renewables make up 23% of the generation mix in GSEA in 2050. That share increases to 39% in the Low Coal Demand case and drops to 16% in the High Coal Supply case. Coal has a 45% share of generation in the Reference case and a 58% share in 2050 in the High Coal Supply case.

Principal contributors: David Fritsch, Kien Chau