World coal consumption to drop up to 4% further by year-end
After peaking in 2013, world coal consumption has been dramatically falling in the last two years and, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), it is on track to decline an additional 2% to 4% before the end of the year.
The study, which suggests consumption of coal for power is likely to have peaked two years ago, says that happened as a result of declining consumption by main coal-using countries, particularly China.
Following a decade of near double-digit growth, coal consumption in China has declined 5.7% so far this year, U.S. use is down 11%, Canada 5%, Germany 3% and the UK 16%, the report shows.
Of the top coal consumers, only India, as it pursues rapid economic growth and increased electricity access for its population, has seen its coal consumption increase — it is up 3% to 6% year on year.
The global coal industry has been under sustained attack, with scientists and environmental groups saying that more than 80% of known reserves must stay underground to help tackle climate change, investors pulling out of the sector and prices chronically depressed.
As the world’s biggest economies turned towards renewables, such as wind and solar, the situation is likely to get worse. Three major coal miners have already filed for bankruptcy protection this year: Patriot Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Walter Energy. And last week, Arch Coal said it was talking to creditors about restructuring its balance sheet.
Meanwhile, England is shutting down it last standing underground coal mine next month, marking the end of a 300-year industry that once employed over a million workers.