Global use of coal continues to climb, despite dangers

By Ata Ufuk Seker, Friday, May 16, 2014

Coal continues to be one of the world's most-used energy sources, despite environmental concerns and the loss of lives to coal mine accidents

Coal continues to be one of the world's most-used energy sources, despite environmental concerns and the loss of lives to coal mine accidents

ANKARA - Coal continues to be one of the world's most-used energy sources, despite environmental concerns and the loss of lives to coal mine accidents.

A coal mine accident in western Turkey on Tuesday claimed more than 280 lives, which has raised questions about the safety procedures in mines across the country.

Although there are numerous problems with coal production and use, global consumption continues to climb.

Coal is the world’s primary electricity generating resource, providing around 40 percent of global electricity according to reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

A recent increase in the growth of coal consumption results from rise in electricity demand in developing countries.

The global growth rate of coal was around 3.4 percent between 2007 and 2012, and the IEA expects coal demand to grow at around 2.3 percent annually until 2018. In 2012, global coal production totaled around 7.8 billion tons, and consumption was approximately 7.7 billion tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).

China alone consumes almost half of the coal produced globally, followed by the US which is the most developed economy dependent on coal, after which India and energy supply giant Russia are also known to rely on coal for heating and electricity.

Germany, despite their developed economy and advanced technology, consume the most coal among the EU states.

China leads in coal imports. In 2012, around 1.2 billion tons of coal where shipped around the world. China alone imports almost a quarter of the world's coal, followed by Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Germany, the UK, Russia, Turkey and Italy. 

Indonesia exports most coal. Indonesia ranked first amongst coal exporters, supplying around quarter of global demand. Australia, Russia, the USA and Colombia followed.

Turkey ranks 12th globally for coal production, with production around 70 million tons. In order to diversify energy sources, Turkey is investing in renewable and domestic energy resources. By 2023, Turkey aims at higher use of domestic coal resources to reduce dependence on natural gas imports, which costs around $60 billion every year.

Since 2005, Turkey has encouraged the search for domestic coal reserves, which has raised known lignite (brown coal) reserves to 14 billion tons. Turkey's Energy Ministry expects by maximizing the use of domestic coal for electricity production, a reduction of around $14 billion in natural gas imports.

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