Global coal consumption down an additional 2-4% in 2015

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Changes in China are driving a structural shift in international thermal coal markets.

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We’ve just posted a new research brief that describes how global thermal coal consumption will most likely fall by an additional 2 percent to 4 percent this year after peaking in 2013.

It’s a remarkable shift driven by declining consumption in the biggest coal-burning countries, China especially.

IEEFA-Global-coal-consumption-chart-11-13-2015-535x385-v2

Our research shows specifically that China’s rate of decline in both production and imports has accelerated since the country hit peak coal consumption two years ago. We believe the trend is driven by the declining energy intensity of China’s economy and by renewable energy gains in market share.

coal-digChina—by far the biggest consumer of coal—has recently seen a decoupling between electricity-demand growth and economic growth, a trend that reflects a significant shift from construction, infrastructure and heavy industrial activity toward consumer and service-industry sectors.

And the Chinese government is working to improve energy efficiency and limit emissions, rapidly diversifying away from its historic reliance on coal-fired power generation it invests in wind-, solar-, hydro-, nuclear- and gas-powered generation.

IEEFA-Coal-consumption-map-11-13-2015-535x465-v2

Alongside China’s 5.7 drop in coal consumption so far this year, U.S. consumption is down 11 percent, Germany is down 3 percent, the U.K is down 16 percent, Japan is down 5 percent, Canada is down 5 percent and Turkey is down 13 percent. In other important markets, South Korean consumption is flat, Indonesia is down 2 percent and Mexico is down 1 percent.


Only two major coal-consuming economies—India and Australia—are reporting coal-consumption growth in 2015, and changes are coming to those markets too.

Tim Buckley is IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australasia.

Source: IEEFA. Reproduced with permission.

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4 Comments
  1. Mike Dill 4 years ago

    Basically everyone else is aboard the renewables train. India’s growth in coal is much less that the growth in electric generation, and is set to go down in a few years as renewables take up more of the load. Australia needs to get a clue. Even the USA is shutting down coal plants as renewables are just cheaper.

    • Jacob 4 years ago

      Obama is shutting down coal power stations by cracking down on mercury emissions.

      But the main stream media in AUS never even talk about mercury emissions.

      • juxx0r 4 years ago

        I’ve been saying here for ages that that is exactly what we should be talking about. So it’s not just the mainstream media. If we made it about health instead of climate the balance of power would change overnight.

        • Geoff 4 years ago

          absolutely. there is so many more pollutants than just CO2 which comes out of burning coal. but no one is talking about it. just like industrial farming of cattle produces insane amounts of methane. yet again, no one is talking about it…

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