Coal consumption has reached an unprecedented level in 2023

The planet, which has never been as hot as in 2023, has never consumed so much coal: global demand reached 8

Coal consumption has reached an unprecedented level in 2023

The planet, which has never been as hot as in 2023, has never consumed so much coal: global demand reached 8.53 billion tonnes this year – unprecedented –, announced Friday 15 December, the International Energy Agency (IEA).

On December 6, the European Copernicus Observatory was the first to officially announce that 2023 would be the hottest year measured in recorded history, with a temperature anomaly of 1.46°C above average for the moment. average temperatures of the period 1850-1900.

The burning of coal to produce energy emits a large part of the CO₂ responsible for global warming into the atmosphere.

It is in Asia that the appetite for coal is greatest: according to the IEA, this year, consumption in China will have increased by 220 million tonnes (4.9%) compared to 2022, that of India by 98 million tonnes (8%), and that of Indonesia by 23 million tonnes (11%).

On the other hand, coal consumption slowed down sharply in Europe (decrease of 107 million tonnes, -23%) and in the United States (decrease of 95 million tonnes, -21%), mainly due to the power plants which are gradually abandoning coal and the weakness of industrial activity.

Consumption “expected to peak in 2023”

The IEA recognizes its difficulty in issuing forecasts for Russia, the world's fourth largest coal consumer, due to the war in Ukraine. The forecasts for Ukraine are also “uncertain”, underlines the IEA.

“From 2024”, global consumption should begin a downward trend, estimates the IEA in its forecasts published two days after the closing of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP), organized by the UN, in Dubai. , who called for a gradual abandonment of fossil fuels, including coal, to fight global warming.

The IEA is counting on a very significant increase in renewable energies (wind, solar) to “push global coal consumption on a downward trajectory”. Consumption of “coal is expected to peak in 2023,” estimates the Agency. Beyond the use of coal to power power plants, consumption should not weaken in its industrial uses such as cement factories.

Paradoxically, in the case of Indonesia, it is the extraction of nickel, in full expansion to supply the automobile battery markets of the energy transition, which favors its consumption of coal.

China nevertheless remains, by far, the most coal-intensive country, with more than half of world consumption (54%) alone. “More than 60 percent” of the coal used in China is used to generate electricity, and the country continues to build coal-fired power plants. But the IEA expects a turning point in 2023 if the country does not suffer too many cold (or hot) waves which influence the use of power plants. According to the Agency, China's coal consumption for electricity generation is expected to fall by 175 million tonnes over the period 2024-2026, to 2.8 billion tonnes.

As a result, it is India which will become the “engine” of upward pressure on global coal demand until 2026, underlines the IEA.