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The International Energy Agency’s Southeast Asia Energy Outlook report presents a positive outlook for Australian coal producers with expected increasing demand, particularly for thermal coal.

The ten nations that make up the ASEAN region are exhibiting strong population growth, increasing urbanisation and robust economic growth with the region’s economy expected to triple in size to 2040.

This has significant implications for energy demand which will be served by existing resource endowments but also by increasing imports.

Currently the mainstays of Australian coal exports, both metallurgical and thermal, are the traditional north Asian markets of Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan with India also growing in importance. However Southeast Asia will gain in significance for Australian producers with inroads already established in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. This trade was valued at A$1.7 billion in 2016-17.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) report indicates that since 2000 the region has been the third-largest investor in coal fired power generation behind China and India at US$66 billion. Projections under the IEA’s New Policies Scenario are for coal’s share of electricity generation to increase from 35 per cent today to over 40 per cent by 2040. In addition, in 2040 coal is projected to be the second largest fuel meeting primary energy demand after oil.

To meet the challenges of reducing carbon dioxide emissions the majority of the new power station build will be High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) technologies with a total increase of 100 GW in coal fired capacity in the outlook period to 2040 – more than four times Australia’s current total coal fired capacity.

The report also notes the available technologies to reduce sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and particulate emissions to negligible levels and the opportunity this provides to greatly improve urban air quality.

With coal demand increasing in the region by near 4 per cent annually to 2040 and declining Indonesian exports over the same period (from 290 Mtce in 2016 to 170 Mtce in 2040) the IEA expects Australia, with its high quality coal, will increase its exports by more than 15 per cent to 2040.

Australia is an efficient coal producer, it is well positioned to deliver to Asia and provides a high quality coal suitable for new generation coal plants and steel making.

This latest report confirms the underlying demand for coal and the considerable opportunity for Australia in the growing market of Southeast Asia.

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