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The future of global coal production visualized

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Coal is the world’s most affordable energy fuel and as such the world’s largest commodity market for power generation.

Unfortunately, this low-cost energy comes at a high cost to the environment, with coal being the main source of energy-related CO2 emissions.

Despite its large footprint, coal was in high demand in 2021. As economies reopened after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries struggled to meet resurgent energy needs. As a readily available low-cost source of energy, coal has filled the supply gap, with global coal consumption increasing by 450 million tons or around +6% in 2021.

This graph looks at the OUCHthe 2024 coal production forecast, and the specific countries that plan to reduce or increase their production over the next few years.

Which countries are increasing (or reducing) coal production?

Global coal production came under intense scrutiny at the COP26 conference held in November 2021, where 40 countries promised to stop issuing permits and directly supporting the government for new coal-fired power plants.

However, many of the major coal-producing countries have not committed to this commitment. China, the United States, India, Russia and Australia abstained, and of these five countries, only the United States is expected to reduce coal production over the next two years.

The country Coal production (2021) Coal production (2024F) Share (2024F) Change (2021-2024F)
🇨🇳 China 3,925 tons 3,982 tons 50% +57 Mt
🇮🇳 India 793 Mt 955 Mt 12% +162 Mt
🇮🇩 Indonesia 576 Mt 570 Mt 7% -6 Mt
🇺🇸 United States 528 Mt 484 Mt 6% -44 Mt
🇦🇺 Australia 470 Mt 477 Mt 6% +7 Mt
🇷🇺 Russia 429 Mt 445 Mt 5% +16 Mt
🇪🇺 European Union 329 Mt 247 Mt 3% -82 Mt
🌐 Other 839 Mt 855 Mt 11% +16 Mt

Source: OUCH

With 15 EU countries signing the pledge, the European Union is expected to experience the biggest drop in coal production to 82 million tonsas well as the largest planned reduction in coal consumption (101 million tonnes, a reduction of 23%).

Reducing coal-fired electricity generation in the United States

The United States and Indonesia are the other two major producers expected to reduce their dependence on coal. The United States should reduce coal production by 7.5% Where 44 million tonswhile Indonesia’s reduction is expected to 6 million tonsor just a 1% reduction in its 2021 production.

Although it did not join the COP26 commitment, the United States is substantially pursuing both short-term and long-term initiatives to reduce coal-fired power generation.

In fact, 85% of the electricity generating capacity in the United States retreats in 2022 should be coal-fired generators, and there are other projects withdraw 28% (59 GW) of currently operational coal-fired capacity by 2035.

Coal helps make ends meet for energy in China and India

Modern consumption and production are rather concentrated in Asia.

China and India produce nearly 60% of the world’s coal and should increase their production by more than 200 million tons per year, collectively. All this coal goes to meet the insatiable energy requirements of both nations.

While China at pledged to start reducing its coal consumption in 2026, the country also announced the construction 43 new coal-fired power plants to meet energy demand by then. Some of the additional production is driven by the need to reduce the country’s dependence on coal imports, which are expected to fall by 51 million tonnes or 16% between 2021 and 2024.

By 2024, China’s coal consumption is expected to increase by 3.3% and India’s by 12.2%, making both countries responsible for two-thirds of global coal consumption.

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