Demand for coal falls in 2016; US and China drive decline

In 2016, global consumption of coal declined by 53 million tonnes or 1.7 per cent

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 15 June 2017

The global demand for coal fell for the second year in a row, according to a study by BP, a multinational oil and gas company. In 2016, global consumption declined by 53 million tonnes or 1.7 per cent, reflecting a shift in the fuel mix away from coal towards lower carbon fuels.

The largest dip in coal use was recorded in two of its largest consumers—China and USA. Consumption in the UK more than halved, falling by 52.5 per cent. The country closed down its last three underground coal mines and its consumption has reduced to levels seen during the industrial revolution, some 200 years ago. US’s power sector its first-ever coal free day in April 2017, going a whole day without producing electricity from coal.

World coal production fell by 6.2 per cent, the largest decline on record, largely dictated by decline in China (where production fell by 7.9 per cent) and USA (where production fell by 19 per cent). The trend, which up until four years ago was the largest source of energy demand growth, establishes a stark reversal of fortune for coal even as US President Donald Trump moved to sign a sweeping executive that nullifies predecessor Obama’s clean power plan. The plan would have closed hundreds of coal power plants in favour of wind and solar farms.

Meanwhile, renewable energy was the fastest-growing source of electricity last year, with its share increasing by 12 per cent.

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