1/18/2024

Electricity production has reached its maximum

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Key points:

  • Thermal coal exports exceeded 1 billion metric tons for the first time.
  • Coal use in power grids continues to grow despite efforts to reduce fossil fuel use.
  • Asia is the main center of coal production, export and consumption.

In 2023, the global production of electricity from coal is expected to reach unprecedented levels. Despite widespread initiatives to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, thermal coal exports surpassed 1 billion metric tons for the first time. The use of coal in power generation continues to escalate, contributing to a record-high figure of 8,295 terawatt-hours (TWh) in coal-fired power generation through October. This represents a 1% increase compared to the same period in 2022, marking the highest level in history.

For the entire year, total thermal coal exports amounted to 1.004 billion tons, reflecting a notable rise of 62.5 million tons or 6.6% from the previous year.

 

Focus on the Asian region

The dominance of coal production, exports, and its utilization in electricity generation is predominantly concentrated in Asia. While various regions, such as Europe and North America, have taken measures to phase out coal for power generation, the overall global trend indicates an expansion in production, exports, and power plant consumption.

Despite the diminishing geographic scope of coal use and trade, the aggregate figures for production, exports, and power plant consumption are on an upward trajectory. In 2023, Indonesia emerged as the leading exporter of thermal coal, setting a new record by shipping 505.4 million tons for the year. This marked a substantial increase of 54 million tons or 12% from 2022. Notably, Indonesia contributed to over half of all raw material supplies in a calendar year for the first time. Australia secured the position of the second-largest coal exporter, dispatching 198 million tonnes, reflecting a 7% increase of 12.5 million tonnes from the previous year.

On the import side, China claimed the top spot as the largest purchaser of this type of fuel, acquiring a record 325 million tons in 2023. This represented a significant surge of 109 million tons compared to the figures in 2022.

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