As Key Trade Partners Commit To Emission Cuts, Australia’s Energy Exports In Focus

As several Asian investors and major countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea get ready to aim for net-zero by 2050,  the future of Australia’s large coal exports is under focus.

Australia, which exports over 80 percent of its coal to Asian countries, primarily China, India, Japan, and South Korea, could see almost all those markets shrink for its coal, as these countries get down to working on achieving their carbon emission targets. In the case of India, it’s also a concurrent push for using domestic coal.

Coal has been huge for Australia in the past decade, with an export value of almost 70 billion Australian dollars in 2019. A value that has almost doubled over the past decade, to make coal one of its top commodity exports, right behind iron ore and concentrates.

Coal demand faces additional challenges, with large investors increasingly shrinking away from, or pledging to not fund coal mining or power plants.

That scenario is oddly at odds with projections made by Australia’s  Mineral’s Council last week, which continues to insist that coal exports are on a growth path all the way to 2030. A lot of that optimism depends on demand from China, Australia’s largest importer.  

While the country and its prime minister continue to put on a brave face, it’s interesting that the country has started t make some moves to turn into an energy exporter of a different kind. The Sun Cable project is one example, while some of the larger green hydrogen processing plans might come to fruition in time to take p the lag when coal exports do flag off. many experts believe that day could come much earlier than 2030, as early as 2025 with further progress on solar power and energy storage. With commercial hydrogen expected to be a reality closer to 2030, the country faces an awkward period between 2025 and 2030 possibly, when it may not quite have the right options to plug the gap that missing coal exports might create.

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Devyani Paliwal

Devyani Paliwal

Devyani is an ACJ graduate with a bachelors in English Literature. A voracious reader since her school days, she has been doing content writing for some time now.

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