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Hard Coal Still the Number One Energy Source for Electricity Generation Worldwide
In its most recent World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a continued rise in the demand for coal until 2035. The IEA also estimated that primary energy consumption between 2008 and 2035 will grow by 36%. Hard coal will retain its dominant position throughout this period. China, India and Indonesia will be the primary forces driving this increase. China alone will have increased its hard coal-fired power plant output by about 600 GW by 2035, corresponding to approximately four times the total installed output in Germany (round about 160 GW, thereof 28 GW hard coal-fired power plants).
The generation of electric power in the world using coal will rise by 20% by 2020. The IEA main scenario foresees some change in the energy mix for electric power generation until 2035 which will reduce fossil fuel consumption, but fossil energies will still dominate and hold a share of 55% in 2035 (2008: 68%). Coal will continue to be the main fuel for electric power generation, even though its share will decline from today's 41% to 32%.
Seaborne world trade in hard coal shows strong growth
The world market for hard coal in 2010 was a stable pillar against the backdrop of the steep plunge of -12% in 2009. Seaborne world trade in hard coal grew by 104 million tonnes (2009: 20 million tonnes) or 14% to 963 million tonnes in 2010. Including domestic trade, the billion-tonne mark was exceeded for the first time (1,053 million tonnes). Capacity utilisation at the export-oriented mines was very high. In comparison with 2009, prices rose by as much as 30% in 2010 owing to the increased demand worldwide.
Further growth in the demand for overseas coal, above all in Asia, is expected for 2011. A significant rise in prices for steam coal as well as for coking coal and coke is expected in this sector as well. The key elements behind this rise are the flooding in Queensland in Australia, the earthquake on New Zealand and the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, including the nuclear disaster in the nuclear power plant at Fukushima which it caused.
Imports to Germany positively impacted by economic recovery in 2010
Import coal was able to profit significantly from the economic recovery in 2010 and strongly demonstrated its function as a so-called "swing supplier". While total primary energy consumption in Germany rose by 4.6% to 479.6 million TCE, total hard coal consumption increased by 15.4%.
Industrial demand for electric power rose and above all because of the boom in the steel industry. The two factors resulted in substantial growth in coal consumption of 7.7 million TCE, resulting in a total of 57.8 million TCE. These strong growth rates were driven especially by the extensive economic recovery, which made itself felt sooner than expected, but they are also a consequence of partly unusually cold weather conditions in Germany in the autumn and winter months. Correspondingly, imports of hard coal also increased sharply: the total of 45 million tonnes translated to about 5 million tonnes more imports than in 2009.
After having fallen to €60-€70/TCE, the border-crossing price for steam coal rose at the end of 2010 by €20-€30/TCE to €80-€100/TCE. During the first four months of this year, the average was €105/TCE; in June, 24th 2011 the price on the spot market CIF ARA (6000 kcal) was around US$121/tonne or €99/TCE.
Imports to Germany increasing slightly in 2011
Despite the decline in coal consumption of 9% in comparison with the 1st quarter of 2010 caused by the mild weather conditions and the increased feed-in of renewables electricity, the revitalisation of imports is expected to continue for 2011. The improved business conditions in the steel industry will undoubtedly lead to higher import quantities for coking coal and coke in particular. In our estimation, however, the steam coal demand will rise moderately because the gap in power supply resulting from the shut-down of nuclear power plants in Germany will have to be closed in part by hard coal-fired power plants in autumn and winter at the latest.
Coal imports of about 45-48 million tonnes are expected for 2011.
Importers Association represents 85% of German coal consumption
The Association currently has 74 members who consume about 85% of the German requirements for hard coal of approximately 57 million tonnes in their facilities. Imported coal covers more than 78% of Germany's coal requirements. Hence the Association is representing almost the whole hard coal market (German and imported coal) in Germany with a financial dimension of two-digit billions.
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