The Impact of Global Coal Supply on Worldwide Electricity Prices
Hard coal is the main energy source for power, accounting for 36% of electricity generation worldwide. But its predominance varies greatly geographically. Whereas in countries like South Africa, Poland or China coal generation accounts for the majority of electricity, in many others it contributes much less, if not at all. Likewise, analysis of the impact of coal prices on electricity prices is not straightforward. In regulated markets, where fuel prices are passed through to the end customers, coal’s price impact on the electricity bill is closely related to its share in generation. However, in liberalised markets, the marginal supply defines prices for all the generation; given that renewables, nuclear and lignite are low-variable cost generators, gas and coal often constitute the marginal supply. In Europe, for example, under the recent gas and coal price levels, coal is setting prices most of the time. This report examines how coal supply affects electricity prices in several major regions.