Coal consumption in the United States is contracting rapidly while in the global economy, it is growing as a fuel of choice. President Obama presaged this development when he said that under his plans, building a coal plant would not be economically viable.
Coal’s share of U.S. electricity is expected to fall to below 40 percent this year from 42 percent last year and produce the lowest share since data was collected in 1949.[ia]
Just five or six years ago, its share of electricity generation was 50 percent. But those statistics are atypical of how the global economy is treating coal. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy shows coal to be the fastest growing fossil fuel worldwide, garnering a 30 percent share of world supplies in 2011, the highest share since 1969.[ii]
According to the latest BP Statistical Review, world coal consumption grew 5.4 percent in 2011 and world coal production grew by 6.1 percent.[iii] The decline in U.S. coal consumption was offset by a large increase in Asia’s coal consumption, which accounted for all the net growth in 2011. China’s coal consumption grew 9.7 percent between 2010 and 2011, and India’s coal consumption increased 9.2 percent. China consumed 49 percent of the world’s coal supply in 2011.