Experts say global coal industry will not recover from Covid-19 pandemic

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:The global coal industry will “never recover” from the Covid-19 pandemic, industry observers predict, because the crisis has proved renewable energy is cheaper for consumers and a safer bet for investors.A long-term shift away from dirty fossil fuels has accelerated during the lockdown, bringing forward power plant closures in several countries and providing new evidence that humanity’s coal use may finally have peaked after more than 200 years. Even before the pandemic, the industry was under pressure due to heightened climate activism, divestment campaigns and cheap alternatives. The lockdown has exposed its frailties even further, wiping billions from the market valuations of the world’s biggest coal miners.As demand for electricity has fallen, many utilities have cut back on coal first, because it is more expensive than gas, wind and solar. In the EU imports of coal for thermal power plants plunged by almost two-thirds in recent months to reach lows not seen in 30 years. The consequences have been felt around the world as well.This week, a new report by the US Energy Information Administration projected the US would produce more electricity this year from renewables than from coal for the first time. Industry analysts predict coal’s share of US electricity generation could fall to just 10% in five years, down from 50% a decade ago. Despite Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “dig coal,” there are now more job losses and closures in the industry than at any time since Eisenhower’s presidency 60 years ago. Among the latest has been Great River Energy’s plan to shut down a 1.1-gigawatt thermal plant in North Dakota and replace it with wind and gas.More importantly, in India – the world’s second-biggest coal consumer – the government has prioritised cheap solar energy rather than coal in response to a slump in electricity demand caused by Covid-19 and a weak economy. This has led to the first year-on-year fall in carbon emissions in four decades, exceptional air quality, and a growing public clamour for more renewables.“The economics of coal were already under structural pressure before the pandemic,” said Michael Lewis, the head of climate change investment research at French bank BNP Paribas. “And coming out of it these pressures will still be there – but now compounded by the impact of the pandemic.”[Jonathan Watts and Jillian Ambrose]More: Coal industry will never recover after coronavirus pandemic, say experts Experts say global coal industry will not recover from Covid-19 pandemiclast_img read more