Coal consumption reaches historic high

The world had, before this year 2022, never consumed so much coal. The most CO2-emitting fossil fuel2, twice as much as gas, is on the rise. In a report published this Friday, December 16, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that coal consumption will exceed the threshold of “8 billion tons”. Despite the price explosion.

“The world is close to a peak in its use of fossil fuels, with coal expected to decline first, but we’re not there yet”summarizes Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security at the IEA.

A demand for coal for electricity

The IEA expects Chinese consumption to rise by 0.4% this year, or +18 million tonnes – two-thirds of Germany’s annual consumption… China accounted for “ 53% of global consumption “, in particular to deal with the “heat waves” and at the “air conditioning request” during summer.

On the European side, the war in Ukraine and the reduction in gas supplies from Russia are the main causes of the 6% increase in consumption. To this are added “the decline in the production of hydraulic and nuclear energy due to weather conditions”, “insufficient solar and wind energy” as well as “the technical problems of the French nuclear fleet”.

A boost of hope

According to the report, eleven European states, including Germany, Italy and France, have been forced to extend the life of existing power plants, or even relaunch old facilities. This is the case of the Saint-Avold power station, in Moselle, which started producing electricity again on Monday 28 November. It closed last March.

However, the IEA experts do not lose hope regarding the reduction in the use of coal. In their analysis, coal would only be used in the event of a consequent lack of energy.

The report highlights a clearing. No investment in favor of export projects has been recorded. “This reflects the caution of investors and mining companies about the outlook for coal over the medium to long term” observes the agency. “At the same time, many signals show the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, the use of heat pumps”, concludes Keisuke Sadamori hoping to reduce the share of coal in the global energy mix after 2025 through “decisive government measures”.


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