NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Under Pressure in the U.S., Coal Still Thriving Internationally

July 27, 2015

The coal industry may be feel like it\'s fighting for its very survival in the U.S., but recent reports from the International Energy Agency show coal is far from dead internationally, especially among developing countries.

IAEA reports indicate the following about the international market:

  • "Coal remained the fastest-growing fossil fuel in 2013 in both absolute and relative terms, accounting for approximately 30 percent of global primary energy consumption, second only to oil," said an IEA report on coal markets, released in December.
  • Another IEA report, tracking the progress of clean energy showed low-priced coal was the fastest-growing fossil fuel in 2013 and that coal production worldwide outpaced the growth of oil and gas in 2012.
  • India\'s use of coal is predicted to remain steady at a 5 percent annual growth rate. India will become the second-largest coal consumer surpassing the United States.

While growth is predicted internationally, the trend is exactly the opposite in the United States:

  • Coal is shrinking in the U.S. as health and climate concerns about CO2 emissions drive states and the federal government to curb the use of coal-fired power plants.
  • Coal slipped from the No. 1 producer of electric power generation to No. 2, falling behind natural gas.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy pulled all future federal dollars from the FutureGen 2.0 coal plant in Illinois.

Rob Nikolewski concludes, after reviewing various opinions, that the international growth is driven by the cheapness of coal for developing nations relative to other energy forms. The U.S. decline is driven by environmental concerns and natural gas competition.

Source: Rob Nikolewski, "Under pressure in the U.S., coal still thriving internationally," Watchdog.org, July 20, 2015.

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