Global Coal and Natural Gas Consumption Continue to Grow

Matt Lucky and Reese Rogers | Dec 31, 2012

Global consumption of coal and natural gas continued to grow in 2011. Coal use increased by 5.4 percent to 3,724.3 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011.1 Demand for natural gas grew by 2.2 percent in 2011, reaching 2,905.6 mtoe.2 

Although oil remains the world’s leading energy source, coal and natural gas continue to grow in importance. Both are the primary fuels for the world’s electricity market. And because they often act as substitutes for each other, their trends need to be looked at together.

Spurred mainly by demand growth in China and India, coal’s share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. 3 (See Figure 1.) While the United States remained one of the world’s largest coal users, consumption growth in 2011 was concentrated among countries that are not part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. 4 Consumption in non-OECD countries grew by 8.4 percent to 2,625.7 mtoe.5 These countries accounted for 70.5 percent of global coal consumption in 2011.6 The bulk of this usage occurs in the electricity-generating sector, with smaller amounts used in steelmaking.7

Fossil Fuels Figure 1


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