Coal Trade: The International Energy Agency says the Abbot Point expansion will play a key role in the coal industry's growth.
Coal Trade: The International Energy Agency says the Abbot Point expansion will play a key role in the coal industry's growth. Peter Holt

Coal exports to soar, says expert

AUSTRALIA'S coal exports are expected to rise by 20% to 300 million tonnes a year by 2020.

That's the outlook by International Energy Agency chief economist Dr Fatih Birol.

Dr Birol is visiting Australia this week to brief government and industry representatives on the global energy outlook.

The Paris-based executive of the IEA, the world's energy watchdog, said the recently announced Abbot Point re-development would play a key role in industry growth.

"Australia is gearing up for a massive export-focused expansion," he said

"New infrastructure such as the development of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal will be needed to avoid persistent bottlenecks."

The IEA's recently released Global Energy Outlook for 2011 says coal has met almost half of the increase in global energy demand over the last decade.

The organisation expects that figure to increase to 65% by 2035.

The report states prospects for coal are especially sensitive to energy policies, notably in China which accounts for almost half of global demand.

Dr Birol said coal won the energy race in the first decade of the 21st century.

He said whether this trend altered, and how quickly, was among the most important questions for the future of the global energy economy.



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