Coal in the Global Energy Landscape

December 20, 2013

Coal could surpass oil as the world's number one energy source by 2017, says Nicolas Loris, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

  • Coal provides 30 percent of the world's energy, 41 percent of the world's electricity generation, and factors into 70 percent of the world's steel production.
  • China produced 45.3 percent of the world's coal in 2012, up from 13.6 percent in 1973. India is projected to surpass the United States in coal production and become the second-largest coal producer in the next five years.
  • Unlike in the United States, where regulators are trying to reduce coal production, China and India have no plans to do so.
  • Over the 1,200 proposals for coal-fired power plants across the globe, 818 of those are in China and India.

Other countries are also focused on coal.

  • Much attention has been concentrated on Europe's push for renewable energy, but coal is still a major player.
  • There are plans to build 69 coal-fired plants in Europe, 47 in Turkey and 48 in Russia.
  • In Australia, 75 percent of the country's electricity comes from coal.

Forty percent of electricity in the United States is generated from coal-fired power plants, yet lawmakers and regulators are increasingly looking to impose restrictions on plants and mining operations. If coal is declining based on market forces (the transition to cheaper natural gas, for example), consumers are made better off and the economy benefits. But imposing unnecessary restrictions that have no environmental benefit on coal operations brings higher prices and destroys jobs. Other countries across the globe recognize how dependable and affordable coal is, and the United States should follow suit.

Source: Nicolas Loris, "Coal in the Global Energy Landscape," Heritage Foundation, December 11, 2013.

 

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