World coal consumption fell by 0.6% (-0.9 EJ), its fourth decline in six years, displaced by natural gas and renewables, particularly in the power sector (see electricity section). As a result, coal’s share in the energy mix fell to 27.0%, its lowest level in 16 years.
Coal consumption continued to increase in some emerging economies, particularly in China (1.8 EJ), Indonesia (0.6 EJ) and Vietnam (0.5 EJ), with the latter posting a record increase in part related to a sharp drop in hydroelectric power. Growth in India, usually a key driver of coal consumption, was only 0.3% (0.1 EJ) – its lowest since 2001. These increases in coal consumption were more than offset by falls in demand in the developed world, led by the US (-1.9 EJ) and Germany (-0.6 EJ), with OECD coal consumption falling to its lowest level in our data series (which goes back to 1965).
World coal reserves in 2019 stood at 1070 billion tonnes and are heavily concentrated in just a few countries: US (23%), Russia (15%), Australia (14%) and China (13%). Most of the reserves are anthracite and bituminous (70%). The current global R/P ratio shows that coal reserves in 2019 accounted for 132 years of current production with North America (367 years) and CIS (338 years) the regions with the highest ratios.
Coal trade decreased by 1.3%, the first decline since 2015. Notable declines in exports came from the US (-0.5 EJ), Australia (-0.4 EJ) and Colombia (-0.3 EJ) with strong growth in exports seen only in Indonesia (0.6 EJ). On the import side, falling imports in Europe (-1.2 EJ) and Japan & South Korea (-0.3 EJ combined) outweighed growth in the rest of Asia (1.3 EJ).