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Coal

Coal consumption declined by 0.6% and its share in primary energy fell to its lowest level in 16 years (27%)
06 Nov 2013 --- Ancient deep coal workings in surface coal mine --- Image by © Monty Rakusen/Corbis

Coal consumption

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).

Consumption by region (exajoules)
Consumption by region (exajoules)

Coal production

Global coal production rose by 1.5%, with China and Indonesia providing the only significant increases (3.2 EJ and 1.3 EJ respectively). As with consumption, the largest declines in production came from the US (-1.1 EJ) and Germany (-0.3 EJ).

Coal production by region (exajoules)
Coal production by region (exajoules)

Coal reserves

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.

Reserves to production (R/P) ratios – 2019 by region (years)
Reserves to production (R/P) ratios – 2019 by region (years)
Reserves to production (R/P) ratios – history (years)
Reserves to production (R/P) ratios – history (years)

Source

Includes data from Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) Energy Study 2020.

Coal prices

Coal prices fell last year, with the Northwest Europe and Chinese marker prices declining by 34% and 14% respectively (to $60.86/t and $85.89/t).

Coal prices ($ per tonne)
Coal prices ($ per tonne)

Source

IHS Northwest Europe prices for 2001-2019 the average of weekly prices. IHS Japan prices basis = 6,000 kilocalories per kilogram NAR CIF. Chinese prices are the average monthly price for 2004-2005, weekly prices 2006-2019, 5,500 kilocalories per kilogram NAR, including cost and freight (CFR). Source: S&P Global Platts ©2020, S&P Global Inc. Prices are for Central Appalachian 12,500 BTU, 1.2 SO2 coal, FOB. Prices for date 2004-2005 by coal price assessment date. 2006-2019 weekly CAPP 12,500 BTU, 1.6 SO2 coal, FOB.

Coal trade

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).