Which Country is Most Dependent on Coal?

Surprisingly, China is not the world's biggest consumer of coal — South Africa is. 77 percent South Africa's energy consumption is coal-based. Though China uses the most coal — about 2 billion tons (1.8 trillion kilograms) each year — its energy consumption is 70 percent coal-based.

More Coal in Your Stocking Facts:

  • The average coal-based energy consumption worldwide is about 30 percent.

  • The United States energy consumption is about 25 percent coal-based, which is less than Germany or Japan.

  • 60 percent of the world's coal is mined underground. Surface mining, however, accounts for 80 percent of the production in Australia and 67 percent of the US production.
  • More than 5,845 million tonnes of coal are produced worldwide each year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which country is the most dependent on coal for its energy needs?

China is currently the most dependent on coal for its energy needs. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China is the world's largest consumer of coal, using it to meet about 57.7% of its total energy demand as of 2019. This heavy reliance is due to its abundant domestic coal reserves and the coal's role in powering its vast industrial sector. (Source: IEA, Key World Energy Statistics 2021)

What percentage of global coal consumption does China account for?

China accounts for a staggering amount of global coal consumption. As per the Global Energy Monitor, China consumed approximately 53% of the world's coal in 2020, making it the largest consumer by a significant margin. This level of consumption underscores China's heavy reliance on coal as a primary energy source. (Source: Global Energy Monitor, Global Coal Plant Tracker 2021)

Are there any countries moving away from coal dependency?

Yes, several countries are actively moving away from coal dependency. For instance, the United Kingdom has made significant strides in reducing its coal use, with plans to phase out unabated coal-fired power stations by 2024. Similarly, Germany has set a deadline to end coal-fired power generation by 2038. These efforts are part of a broader global shift towards renewable energy sources to combat climate change. (Source: UK Government, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany)

How does coal dependency impact the environment?

Coal dependency has profound environmental impacts. Burning coal releases a high amount of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Additionally, coal mining and combustion result in air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, leading to acid rain and respiratory problems. Coal ash, a byproduct, can contaminate water sources with toxic heavy metals. The environmental cost of coal dependency is a compelling reason for the global shift towards cleaner energy sources. (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

What are the economic implications of a country being heavily dependent on coal?

A country heavily dependent on coal can face several economic implications. While coal might offer short-term cost advantages and energy security, it can also lead to long-term health costs due to pollution-related illnesses. Moreover, as the world moves towards renewable energy, coal-dependent economies risk being left behind, facing stranded assets and job losses in the coal industry. Transitioning to cleaner energy sources is increasingly seen as both an environmental and economic imperative. (Source: International Renewable Energy Agency)

More Info: www.energy.gov/energysources/coal.htm

Discussion Comments


Coal is the average based energy consumption worldwide and it's 30 percent.


There is no doubt there are many hidden costs of mining both thermal coal and metallurgical coal which don't always make coal market news.

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