Mainly Coal Powered Economic Growth in 2021 and 2022

Global electricity demand will rebound strongly in 2021 and 2022. After falling by around 1% in 2020, global electricity demand is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and by 4% in 2022. The majority of these increases will take place in the Asia Pacific region. More than half of global growth in 2022 will be from China and India will be 9%. Fossil fuel-based electricity is set to cover 45% of additional demand in 2021 and 40% in 2022. Coal-fired electricity generation, after declining by 4.6% in 2020, will increase by almost 5% in 2021 to exceed pre-pandemic levels. It will grow by a further 3% in 2022 and could set an all-time high.

CO2 emissions from the electricity sector will increase by 3.5% in 2021 and by 2.5% in 2022. Emission had fallen by 1% in 2019 and by 3.5% in 2020.

The IEA Net‐Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario shows that three quarters of emissions reductions between 2020 and 2025 take place in the power sector, where emissions decline by 4.4% per year on average. This requires coal-fired electricity generation needs to fall by more than 6% a year, partially replaced by gas, which grows by around 5% a year.

This means the growth of coal energy usage means that the world will be moving further from the Net Zero 2050 emissions target.

China electricity demand in 2021 is averaging 15% higher than the same month in 2019. In 2021, China will be back to 70% of its electricity coming from coal. China had briefly dipped to 60% electricity from coal in 2020.

Dry weather is reducing hydroelectricity generation in China, Europe, USA and Brazil.

SOURCES – IEA Electricity Market Report July 2021
Written by Brian Wang,

54 thoughts on “Mainly Coal Powered Economic Growth in 2021 and 2022”

  1. IF 2500 charge-discharge cycles, AND if 80% in-out return efficiency AND $100/kW + $50 or so for infrastructure to house them, return A/C to grid and so on, then ($¹⁵⁰⁄₂₅₀₀)/0.80 = 7.5 ¢/kWh . Remarkably nice sounding.  

    IF installed¹ battery drops to $80/kWh + $40 in design, install, inverters an all the rest costs, then ($¹²⁰⁄₂₅₀₀) ÷ 0.80 = 6.0 ¢/kWh

    SOLAR costs, if they drop to less than $1.25 per 'nominal watt', deliver either to the battery stack, or to grid at 8.5 ¢/kWh. Very probably, over half, maybe ¾ of the kWh are destined for battery storage and return at night, on crâhppy days, all that. So, (8.5 ¢ ⊕ ¾ × 6 ¢) = 13 ¢/kWh for the installed generation and competent non-sunlight hour return. 

    That definitely is still above the raw cost of natural gas and older coal plants.  Even if the amortization is substantially longer, and interest rate lower, it might come down to less than 8 ¢/kWh. Which finally puts it into the 'competitive with coal/gas'.  

    Going to take some doing though. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  2. Fair enough. I've read in several places that solar is approaching or beating coal in price (such as or but those generally don't talk a lot about batteries.

    This blog, however, is decidedly optimistic on batteries, looking more at peaker plants in this particular case, but it has implications for main power generation as well. It would be interesting to see what a numbers guy like yourself would make of it:

  3. The quotes in the orig are correct. "store more than 1,400 megawatts at a time." Now, I know that concept will bend thy mind. It doth mine.

  4. Nice, no-risk, no-harm personnages would still have us living in the 19th century

    You mean 19th century B.C. of course. 19th A.D. was well into the industrial age.

  5. This (we export our pollution to countries that do little to manage or mitigate their pollution.) is a problem.

    Germany 'exports their CO₂ output' to Russia, Eastern Europe, because EE makes a bunch of power which Germany likes to import.  And a lot of raw materials, similarly made with a lot of CO₂ emissions. 

    The US — in deriving nearly all of its metals from China — does essentially the same thing. The only thing 'manufacturing wise' that we still do here is to roast limestone to make portland cement, the adhesive of industrial concrete. 

    Make no mistake: the US, in buying shiploads of metals, cars, trucks, busses, heavy equipment from external markets, is definitely 'exporting its CO₂ emissions'.  

    So, in a way, the moral mirror points right back at us. 
    Which is vexing. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  6. Extraordinary claims
    — "solar & wind + battery is becoming cheaper than coal or NG" —
    require extraordinary proof. And I really mean that for this claim.

    Say, if you might, that competent utility-scale solar can be installed for less than $2.50 per peak watt. Way it works out for most-every location NOT happily positioned in the Sahara Desert, is that the 24-hour-a-day equivalent peal-watt to collected energy (in watt hours) is 15% to 30%. Angle of the sun seasonal, dusts, clouds, annual insolation stuff, all that. Most locations are lucky to exceed 22% over a year. 

    That'd be 5.3 Wh/day per W of 'peak' plate.  

    5.3 kWh/day per 1 kW ($2,500) installed capacity.  
    5.3 × 365 = 1,927 kWh/year.

    $2,500 at 6%, 10 years, declining balance mortgage = $332 per year. 
    $322 ÷ 1,927 kWh = 17 ¢/kWh

    And that doesn't include battery.
    Estimated at well over 22 ¢/kWh (at)
    2,500 charge-discharge equivalent cycles.

    So, please by all means … show your work.
    Or someone's. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  7. How cheap for 10TWe delivered on demand into 200 MWe locations? Per KWe-h retail? Criswell is $.01 with pre Musk rocket prices.

  8. Non-binding is key. Everybody agrees to it, but when it gets in the way of jobs this quarter, people quietly ignore it. Then when flooding in Germany happens, or more fires in California, or drought in the Midwest, or record number of hurricanes, then people start saying …. hey, maybe we should pay attention?

  9. That's nice to say, but the economics are still hard to justify. The moon is a dangerous place to live, and a space colony would require everything to be lifted up to it. The Yahoo article didn't run any numbers in terms of cost of getting one industry into space, let alone dozens of them.

  10. It's far cheaper to build solar on Earth & supplement with batteries (prices are really going down) than to launch solar to orbit and beam it down to receivers. Particularly anywhere near an inhabited place with people worried about microwave radiation.

  11. Interestingly, India is a major importer of U.S. coal.
    Nuclear has promise, if done right (not like the 1950's with the side goal of making plutonium).
    But also solar & wind + battery is becoming cheaper than coal or natural gas, that will be the real game changer going forward.

  12. Valid points, but in part the U.S. and EU have decreased their energy use (per capita) because so much industry and manufacturing has been exported to China & others. We keep the service industry and most of the R&D, which is relatively low in energy usage.

    IOW, we export our pollution to countries that do little to manage or mitigate their pollution.

  13. This part was interesting: "Fossil fuel-based electricity is set to cover 45% of additional demand in 2021 and 40% in 2022. "

    That means that 55% and then 60% of additional demand will not be fossil-fuel based. It's unlikely they can build that much hydroelectric or nuclear in that time. Much of that must be renewables.
    Solar + battery is becoming cheaper than coal, and more adept at handling shifting energy demands on a daily basis. Even a peaker plant takes time to spin up and wind down, whereas batteries can be tapped immediately. Battery prices have gone down faster than anyone predicted a decade ago.

  14. Its a thinker, to be sure.

    Thing is, India is just behind China with regard to proven coal reserves. I always had thought this was not the case, but just took the time to look it up on each nation's national registry.  

    So. Coal.

    COAL, lest we forget, really was the China Miracle, in large part. 

    India, as I said, being more-or-less where China was in what, 1990? Something like that. India, in order to raise herself up by her bootstraps, needs something akin to the China Miracle.  

    Having the coal, that'd be coal. 

    As you say, getting India to fully embrace western nation (or even 'ceremonially Chinese') scrubbing and remediation would be the key.  But alas… not likely. 

    We (The West, the 'Concerned Big Elephants') could help a whole lot by investing in India's nuclear industries. They'd like it, and we'd all benefit. Just have to keep Chinese-made equipment out of their systems. Too much opportunity for bad spirits to infest their systems.  

    But I guess my rant was more an expression of ire-and-ridicule for the powdered wigs taking mere ritualistic umbrage at China's fawning countenance, her pious celebration of small gains against a huge emission problem. 

    That is what blackens my mood.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  15. Profit – the cause of and solution to all Life Problems. The Mother of all Incentives.
    The key is: is it 5 steps forward and then 4 steps back (but hey, we made the 5 steps forward). Believe in the Greed. It will spawn the good as well as the bad.

  16. Bleeding-Heart Liberal Alarmist Nonsense.
    Cities would never have formed if people didn't want to leave the healthy country to get wealth and opportunity in big, dirty factories. People value economy (especially as it self-services) first even at the now-risk of environment (conservation), health, future generations,etc. – because it enables choice, modernity, and opportunity — which may or may not enable environment, health, and future generations down the road. Jungles, savannahs, forests, mangroves, etc., would have been cleared and developed anyway even if we never created our first light bulb, crank shaft or steam-powered anything — just for agriculture and fishing as population expanded as it was destined to do pre-industrially. We are successfully navigating a less-than-ideal, but certainly civilization-positive mixture of energy, industry, and conservation. Everyone is getting something and we will continue on a trajectory of excellent technological develpment, boundless consumerism, and eventual solution to all disease and poverty – which wouldn't have happened for centuries under a non-tech, non-industrial, non-dirty-fuel world. The industrial world is/was the necessary evil to get us to a post-industrial, post-scarcity world. Nice, no-risk, no-harm personnages would still have us living in the 19th century, even though population would have exploded irrespective.

  17. Were that India cognizant of its egregious errors.  

    I don't even think we can claim they aren't cognizant of said errors. Does India have a choice? Is there any alternative path that India (and similar nations) could practicably take?

    • Decide to eschew the wealth and lifestyles (and military power) that come with industrialisation? Prepare to be "retired" in favour of those who were more progressive. This is normal operating procedure in India, less normal in China, but it would still happen.
    • Go all nuke? Maybe. The big asian countries are going nuke to some extent. But Indian pressure groups aren't any more rational than western ones.
    • Install full western style pollution control systems, include full change over of business culture to western style rule following, reforming centuries of bribe/nepotism/corner cutting in how the pollution systems will be run? Good luck with that.

    Note, in that last point I didn't use the word "corruption". Nepotism is giving cushy jobs and business to your relatives. It's an objective measure. Corruption is doing the same thing when this is against the rules. Nepotism only becomes corruption when the organisation tries to move over to a meritocratic type system. Nepotism was standard, expected, operating procedure up until living memory in most of the world.
    North East Europe and the related colonies abandoned this approach earlier. But not THAT much earlier. Mid 1800s ± a generation.

  18. Most likely, because, as a good friend of mine, who has been working as an energy technology consultant across the globe for many years, said to me: there is one thing that no government in the world (except North Korea) will ever deny its citizens, and that is prosperity, at any (environmental) cost.

    And there is not only China, but also India, Indonesia, and the rest.

  19. It does.

    And that's sad.

    Sad because of the powdered wigs (think British high court) being sent to Tokyo, Benin, Aspen, Seoul, Paris and anywhere else a good croissant can be made. All of them, pontificating without chagrin, at the horror of The West, in its failure to take drastic measures to squash and cut their CO₂ emissions. 

    Yet, failing, as wigged walruses are want to do, failing to note that the US's and EU's populations have increased substantially in the last 20 years, 30 years, and all the while, both entities HAVE cut emissions.  Substantially.  Maybe not in accord with an Accord, but still, not infintessimally. Would that China cut hers so much, over the last 20 years. Were that India cognizant of its egregious errors.  

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  20. Doesn't it make you wonder how the powdered wig bunch can board their stratoliners, wing half-way across the planet, and attend vociferous meetings that every fûqueing year, FAIL to call out and pillory China and now India too for their turpitude?  

    I'm a pretty fluid goat, when it comes down to it. I've attended many a symposium that has hotel-loads of attendees meeting to blandify real problems and issues into the most pacific buckets of pölïtically corrected horse-gack and fell forests printing up the banal results. I play well with others, so … as long as the croissants are crispy and the espresso (and rum) running free, I'm munching and gushing encouragingly along with the milieu.  

    But now I'm getting old. 
    And crotchety. 
    And unamused. With mendacity.

    Realizing that the whole côck-and-pony show is a SHAM as China's and India's unabated (and largely unmuffled) coal burning progresses apace. It feels like worrying of whether your hobby-horse micro-farm has enough dung to fertilize the pole beans, when sitting right next door to an unregulated Haber-Bosch ammonia plant.  

    China and India.

    We can NOT overstate it, in real terms.  
    Their pandering to the powdered wig clade is outrageous. 
    As are the bought-and-paid quislings who fell forests printing pointless results. 

    Yah… I'm a particularly black mood. 
    So be it.

    Google it.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  21. A couple of things.

    Unmuffled coal-particulate emissions are 

    • Horrible
    • Stinky
    • Toxic
    • Ecologically egregious
    • Ugly

    Sure, one can contrive to use a combination of electrostatic filtration, 'bag' pre-filtration, alkaline de-acidification, zeolite clay sprays, cyclic tower swapping, salt water sluicing and so on to clean up the effluvia to the point of being a crystal clear, transparent, non-browning stream of H₂O and CO₂ (and not much else), but there is something not-often considered that is the real gotcha, especially for someplace as rapidly progressing as China.

    Support infrastructure. 

    In a nutshell, China could — but doesn't — make anywhere near the quantities of anti-pollution scrubbing tower chemicals, precipitator tower consumables, bag collection materials, and even portage of the same from origin to power plants, IN QUANTITY.  

    Brian picked an almost Iconic image to tack to this article. 

    Men with shovels, overfilling a bucket-of-bolts truck, heaped with sub-bituminous coal, to fire (probably) yet another unlicensed but hugely patriotically approved coal-fired water boiler for an egregiously overcrowded apartment complex.  Which belches out black badness all night long. When the well paid-off coppers are safely asleep in their Commie Condos. 

    It take an infrastructure.
    Which takes rectitude.
    And backbone.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  22. And for those 'historically challenged', here is the PDF of the remarkable short story, "The Marching Morons" … its FREE, too. ("a bit dated" means 1951 publication, which might sound like the Pleistocene to Millennials, but its really only the 'rocket's red glare', the opening salvo of the Modern Era of Sci Fi.)

    Good stuff.
    Read it. (its about a 20-30 minute investment)
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  23. One could go further on that line of thinking — doing armchair research into confirming consumer trends expected to happen 'cuz of the redirection of personal lifestyle changes.  More BBQ's sold, but smaller ones, since they're not being used for big community-or-far-flung-family-and-friends cookouts.  Perhaps the 'rise of the sedan', again.  As happened after the 1970s Mideast Oil Crisis.  

    We (here in California) are already seeing an uptick in house-buying toward smaller-is-better homes. Especially toward relatively large-scale attached-wall duplexes, triplexes and so on.  The 'rise' (bad pun) of the 4 level "projects" condominium.  Again, like in the 1960s and 1970s.  One big-plex in our town sports over 2,500 condominiums in ¹⁄₁₀ to ¹⁄₂₀ as many physical buildings. Million bux, each. Wow.

    Anyway… its 4:30 AM here and I either need to go back to bed, or make a cup of something to kick-start this old Goat for the day. Yawn…

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  24. Rather than risk catastrophic climate change and the mass exodus of millions of people as their countries become unsuitable for habitation, lets stop pumping billions of tonnes of co2 into the atmosphere and not take the risk at all!

  25. Sure it's bad, when you don't operate the installed scrubbers. But that's a deliberate choice, to cheat emissions rules and only operate when the inspectors come around announced. There is a powerplant parasitic power cost to running emission controls systems, plus consumables costs for the systems, that can be avoided by turning the systems off and selling that excess power at additional profit, or operating at lower coal consumption for the same output reducing input coal costs.

  26. I can just as easily see a strong move towards everyone using private vehicles, private homes with individual air conditioning, mass use of sterilization and disinfection, a strong push away from collective food preparation, and half a dozen other covid-driven changes that result in increased energy use.

    By the time we have enough actual data to know which way things will go, the changes will have occurred and the plague itself should be over.

  27. Since energy is the life-blood of any economy, and since China's energy is majority dependent on coal, and since China's economic growth remains the highest in the world, does it not follow that China's use of coal will continue to accelerate?

  28. Lurker here. No mention of the crazily expanding Delta mutation and it's effects on economic output? Perhaps a reduction of electrical requirements will once again occur, reducing pollution.

  29. And,

    has "
    One NYU study volunteer said of her psychedelic experience, “It is like I know
    another language,” and I have a feeling that as a species out of touch,
    out of empathetic connection, out of mystical alignment with all other
    species on this planet — that a new language might be exactly what we
    Carl Jung wrote, “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning.” I read in this that the search for meaning is important when we are young and accumulating experience, but just as ripe, as necessary and needed, when we are older.
    I would argue that the search for meaning is even more essential, more
    expedited in pressing need, in the face of the impending ecological
    death we will witness in the next five, 10, 20, 50 years. Jung went
    further and concluded that we are meant to do things in the last half of
    life for ourselves, for society, for the sake of our souls.
    Jung’s afternoon light feels collectively upon us right now." Someone tell her to read O'Neill.

  30. So, here is a *little* better than usu coverage of Space O'Neill Bezos: The (very) big business of space: Billionaires reach for the stars – and may get the last laugh on woke warriors

    edit: "Many scientists also scoff at the loftier goals of colonies in orbit,
    the moon and Mars pitched by Bezos and Musk, as somewhere between
    far-fetched and outright impossible." Except BIS.

    And, oldie but goodie just found:

  31. Starter kit for LSP (above [edit: the full report link] pg 7, A-2 and A-4) is ~1 TWe, that is break even cash flow scale. 20 TWe minimum system, needed for global weirding solution. Easily expand to 200 TWe. 200 GWe Earth solar install rate would be 100 years for min, but of course that won't happen. Criswell is moving only thousandths as much mass for LSP as glass and structure for cells on Earth, and getting far more sun, even on Moon. And, power beaming handles the distribution. And, LSP opens Space big time, very big time. Also, much the same at L5 Solar Station.

    But that is Space Solar. The Earth Solar you mention is fodder for the Earth to Earth power beaming, as shown below on ppg 12-13. Use Earth cells or wind along with un moved molly queues. This is how intermittency of sun and wind, as well as demand variables, are solved in such a way as to be advantages! Intermittency means that people overbuild, dramatically it turns out for cheap land solar. This means they have extra when the sun is good. Free for power beaming, or H production too. The rectenna constructed near my current power station will then be able to get Space Solar too. This is important to do. NOW. I live in Texas. HELP!

  32. it's all about giving the great unwashed/BH-Libs their hill-to-die-on just so at least we can get a 32-hour work week out of them… the key is that we don't have the 'less is more' environmentalism of the 90s – we can still drive SUVs and pickups…

  33. Not on a useful time scale when the world is installing 150 GW of solar this year, and more in future years.

  34. I suppose such a cynic may call Democracy the right for the idiots to choose just so we can keep them motivated and productive…

  35. Agreed. I guess some people just like to watch the world burn as they fiddle (or go up in toxic inundation). As every smart politician knows, you always tell people they are right, especially when they are demonstrably not, yet constantly seek to distract them to their 'right path' to improvement, while still taking the blame for such hassles along the way while still acknowledging them for how smart they were for being distracted by the 'better' new thing… such as away from coal, away from tobacco, away from ICEs, away from unions, away from GMO-based restrictions… and other such obstrucions to greatness.

  36. "… it's a deliberate lifestyle choice of the people…"
    Ah. the delusions of one who has not taken that fundamental truth to heart: "tragedy of the commons" – the notion that people are fundamentally idiots and when grouped together without knowledge (or interest) of consequence (i.e. a mob) become much worse. One does not remove the source of bad, but easily incentivizes a form of good and thus lead by the nose all who would sacrifice their children's future health by the bright shiny facility up the street – cost? significant taxation, debt, and unrealized potential — but who cares? movement to the lesser evil has always 'nudged' people in the 'free world'…

  37. btw, "co2 is a bad" refers to the negative consequences of unchecked artificial buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere for over a century.

  38. Particulates from coal isnt a problem, it's a deliberate lifestyle choice of the people that consumes the power. Particulate control tech is very mature and the people's representatives have consistently rejected job killing regulation requiring ultralow particulate emissions. The cost of emission control on a coal plant is orders of magnitude lower than going nuclear.

    To quote a few simpletons who said on a few occasions ~"If you're not supporting the cheapest solution, your real goal might be tyranny."

  39. The second comment in that link is about the need for power beaming, yet, he does not know about power beaming. So, he makes a fool of himself.

  40. CO2 isn't bad per se, but coal emission particulates are far worse than anything a nuclear power plant ever emits.

  41. That's only for 2021-2 due to the rebound after the 2020 crisis. After that, the pace of energy capacity growth will subside while the uptick that was in renewable energy generation addition in 2020 is not forecasted to subside but rather continue increasing later in the decade. In the years leading to the crisis, we have almost reached a CO2 emissions peak, we are sure to reach it and start bringing emissions down after 2022.


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