The coal industry is in for a period of sluggish growth as global demand essentially peaks in the coming years, the International Energy Agency forecasts in a new report.
IEA expects worldwide growth in coal consumption to average just 0.6 percent between 2015 and 2021 as developed countries continue to abandon the energy source and China's consumption plateaus. That will offset growing demand among emerging nations, particularly in India and Southeast Asia.
"Coal demand is moving to Asia, where emerging economies with growing populations are seeking affordable and secure energy sources to power their economies," said Keisuke Sadamori, the director of the IEA's energy markets and security directorate, in a press release.
The assessment by one of the world's leading energy authorities comes on the heels of a difficult time for coal producers. In 2015, global coal demand fell for the first time since the 1990s. Many coal companies have fallen into bankruptcy as the world remains supplied with more coal than it can use.
IEA expects the turnaround will be anything but spectacular; it projects coal consumption in 2021 will reach 5.63 billion tons of coal equivalent, just barely above 2014 levels.