Global coal consumption: Spotlight on China’s consumption for power generation

“China’s influence on coal markets is difficult to overstate”, says the International Energy Agency’s Coal 2021 report, which was published in mid-December

China’s overall coal use (i.e, power plus non-power) accounts for more than half of the world’s total consumption of coal, and China is also the world’s largest coal producer and importer.

China’s coal consumption hit an all-time high in 2021 and will continue to rise until 2024.

With power generation in China accounting for such a large proportion of global coal consumption, no other sector in any other country – or any other fuel – has a comparable influence on global trends.

Although China is expanding its renewable energy capacity, growth of 9.5% per year on average from 2021 to 2024 is not likely to be sufficient to meet additional demand. China is increasing its coal-fired generation capacity at a pace of ~30GW [net] per year. Between 2021 and 2024, China’s coal-based power generation is forecast to increase 1.4% annually.

As well as accelerating the development of renewables, it also seems apparent from the Five-Year Plan that China will continue to actively promote what it calls “the clean and efficient use of coal.”