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Despite A Boost In Demand, Coal Demand Remains Well Under Its Peak

This article is the third in a series on BP’s recently-released Statistical Review of World Energy 2019. The Review provides a comprehensive picture of supply and demand for major energy sources on a country-level basis.

In the first article of the series, I discussed the trends in global carbon dioxide emissions. In the second article, I went over the supply and demand picture for petroleum.

Today, I want to cover the production and consumption of coal.

The previous article on carbon dioxide emissions noted that the world is at an all-time high for carbon emissions. The biggest culprit is global consumption of coal, which is being largely driven by development in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2018, global coal consumption rose for the second straight year, but remains about 2.5 percent below the peak level in 2013. Asia Pacific coal consumption did reach a new all-time high, but consumption growth there has sharply slowed from the torrid pace of 2000-2010.

Coal consumption – Global and Asia Pacific

Coal consumption in most of the developing world continues to grow. Asia Pacific increased consumption by the most overall, but its 2.5 percent growth rate lagged Africa’s (+3.9 percent) and Central and South America (+3.7 percent). Related: Why Natural Gas Prices Collapsed

In the major developed regions of the world (including developed countries in Asia Pacific), coal consumption continues to decline. Coal consumption in the EU has been in decline since 1989, and U.S. coal consumption has steadily fallen for a decade.

Coal consumption – U.S. and EU

The world overall has seen coal’s share decline in the overall energy consumption mix. In 2018, coal consumption represented 27.2 percent of primary energy consumption. That is down from 30 percent a decade ago. The five countries most dependent on coal for primary energy consumption are:

  1. South Africa – 70.8 percent of primary energy consumption
  2. China – 58.2 percent
  3. India – 55.9 percent
  4. Kazakhstan – 53.4 percent
  5. Poland – 48.0 percent

Asia Pacific comes in at 47.5 percent, while the EU and U.S. are respectively at 13.2 percent and 13.8 percent.

China remains firmly in first place as the world’s largest coal consumer and producer. The Top 5 producers, along with the share of global coal production, are:

  1. China – 46.0 percent
  2. India – 9.5 percent
  3. US – 8.6 percent
  4. Indonesia – 6.8 percent
  5. Australia – 6.1 percent

Since global energy consumption continues to rise, which energy sources are pushing coal’s share down? The biggest factor in stemming coal’s growth has been rapid growth in natural gas and renewables. Those sources will be covered in the next two articles.

By Robert Rapier

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