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World Coal 2018-2050: World Energy Annual Report (Part 4)

World Coal 2018-2050: World Energy Annual Report (Part 4)

This is Part 4 of the World Energy Annual Report in 2018. This part of the Annual Report provides updated analysis of world coal production and consumption, evaluates the future prospect of world coal supply and considers the implications of peak coal production for global economic growth.

This report uses Hubbert linearization to evaluate a region’s ultimately recoverable coal resources where a Hubbert linear trend can be meaningfully established, that is, where a clear downward trend of the annual production to cumulative production ratios can be identified and has been established for at least several years. Otherwise, this report uses alternative sources to establish a region’s ultimately recoverable coal resources, such as official reserves, official projections, or estimates made by energy research institutions.


Figure 14 World Historical and Projected Coal Production, 1950-2050

Figures are placed at the end of each section.

Coal Consumption by Major Economies, 1990-2017

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, world coal consumption was 3,732 million tons of oil equivalent in 2017. Between 2007 and 2017, world coal consumption grew at an average annual rate of 0.8 percent.

Figure 1 compares the historical world economic growth rates and the coal consumption growth rates from 1991 to 2017. The coal consumption growth rate has an intercept of -0.031 at zero economic growth rate and a slope of 1.496. That is, coal consumption has an “autonomous” tendency to fall by 3.1 percent a year when economic growth rate is zero. However, an increase (or decrease) in economic growth rate by one percentage point is associated with an increase (or decrease) in coal consumption by about 1.5 percent. R-square for the linear trend is 0.45. In 2017, world coal consumption grew by 0.7 percent, a rate that is 1.9 percentage points below what is implied by the historical trend.

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World Energy 2016-2050: Annual Report

World Energy 2016-2050: Annual Report

The purpose of this annual report is to provide an analytical framework evaluating the development of world energy supply and its impact on the global economy. The report projects the world supply of oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and other energies from 2016 to 2050. It also projects the overall world energy consumption, gross world economic product, and energy efficiency from 2016 to 2050 as well as carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels burning from 2016 to 2100.

The basic analytical tool is Hubbert Linearization, first proposed by American geologist M. King Hubbert (Hubbert 1982). Despite its limitations, Hubbert Linearization provides a useful tool helping to indicate the likely level of ultimately recoverable resources under the existing trends of technology, economics, and geopolitics. Other statistical methods and some official projections will also be used where they are relevant.

Past experience with Hubbert Linearization suggests that Hubbert Linearization exercise tends to underestimate the ultimately recoverable oil and natural gas resources. To mitigate this “pessimistic” bias, I use the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s official projection to project US oil and natural gas production from 2016 to 2040, which may prove to be too optimistic.

About two years ago, I posted “World Energy 2014-2050” at Peak Oil Barrel (Political Economist 2014). The posts can be found here:

World Energy 2014-2050 (Part 1)

World Energy 2014-2050 (Part 2)

World Energy 2014-2050 (Part 3)

The 2014 report drew the following conclusion:

It finds that world production of oil, natural gas, and coal may peak between 2016 and 2031. As the supply of fossil fuels declines and the renewable energies do not grow sufficiently rapidly, the world energy consumption is projected to peak in 2035 and the world economy is projected to enter into a prolonged depression after 2040. World carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels burning are projected to peak in 2027.

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