WATCH: Coal demand holds steady from Africa’s biggest export terminal
JOHANNESBURG - While the fight against climate change ramps up, Africa’s biggest export terminal for the dirtiest fossil fuel is demonstrating that demand from developing nations continues unabated.
Coal shipments from Richards Bay last year, which primarily headed to Asia, were maintained at almost the levels of at least the previous five years. It shows the challenge for policymakers and environmentalists as coal is more affordable that most other forms of energy.
The Richards Bay terminal in South Africa exported 72 million tons of coal in 2019, 1.8% lower than the previous year. The plant, which maintains a target of 77 million tons of annually, sent 91% of last year’s shipments to Asia, Chief Executive Officer Alan Waller told reporters on Thursday. Total exports hit a record 76.5 million tons in 2017.
While global coal use had a historic dip in 2019, the International Energy Agency anticipates a steady increase in the next five years as growing electricity demand in developing countries outpaces a shift to cleaner sources in industrialized nations. Power generation from coal rose to an all-time high in 2018, remaining the world’s largest source of electricity.
Exports of the commodity from Richards Bay have shown no sign of slowing down, staying in a narrow range from 72 to 77 million tons annually since 2014. South Africa is the fifth biggest exporter of coal used for fuel, according to BP Plc data.