IEA: Coal use reached a record high of 8.3 billion metric tons in 2022

And it’s continuing to grow due to use in India and China.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a coal plant.jpg
Representational image of a coal plant.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its coal market update last week highlighting that use of the fossil fuel significantly grew last year and continues to do so, according to a news report by the agency.

“Coal consumption in 2022 rose by 3.3% to 8.3 billion tonnes, setting a new record,” noted the press statement. “In 2023 and 2024, small declines in coal-fired power generation are likely to be offset by rises in industrial use of coal, the report predicts, although there are wide variations between geographic regions.”

China, India and Southeast Asian countries will be responsible for 3 out of every 4 tonnes of coal consumed globally in 2023. In Europe, coal use is expected to fall significantly this year as countries move forward with renewables and as nuclear and hydropower bounce back from their recent slumps. Meanwhile, in the United States, lower natural gas prices are driving a move away from the fossil fuel.

China and India offset demand

In the first half of this year in the United States and the European Union, coal use fell by 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively. However, it was offset by demand from China and India, which grew by over 5 percent.

“Coal is the largest single source of carbon emissions from the energy sector, and in Europe and the United States, the growth of clean energy has put coal use into structural decline,” said IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security Keisuke Sadamori. 

“But demand remains stubbornly high in Asia, even as many of those economies have significantly ramped up renewable energy sources. We need greater policy efforts and investments – backed by stronger international cooperation – to drive a massive surge in clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce coal demand in economies where energy needs are growing fast.”

Extreme volatility

Last year was marked by extreme volatility and high prices of coal but those prices fell in the first half of 2023 to the same levels as those seen in summer of 2021, making imports more attractive for several buyers. This resulted in Chinese imports having almost doubled in the first half of this year while global coal trade in 2023 is set to grow by more than 7 percent, approaching the record levels witnessed in 2019, noted the IEA press release.

All this indicates that transitioning India and China away from coal in order to reduce global use won’t be easy or cheap as both the nations are clearly invested in the fossil fuel. However, if we are to curb the dangerous carbon emissions that threaten our planet with global warming, we must find a way to do so.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board