Coal production and consumption down a third in just two years

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Coal production
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Coal production and consumption in the European Union is down a third in just two years.

The decreasing trend observed in coal statistics in the EU is continuing and it affects both hard coal and brown coal, and both the production and the consumption of each, according to Eurostat on August 10.

Following a consistent decline since 1990, the decrease of the consumption of both types of coal accelerated in 2019. Compared to 2018, hard coal consumption decreased by 35 per cent in 2020 and brown coal, mostly lignite, consumption by 33 per cent.

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The 2020 monthly figures show that the Covid-19 pandemic had effects on coal production and consumption, but the full extent of the influence of the pandemic on coal production and consumption will be clearer in the following years.

Hard coal: from 13 to two producers, strong decrease in production and consumption

In 2020, the EU produced 56 million tons of hard coal, 80 per cent less than its production in 1990. The number of Member States producing the hard variety has also decreased since then, from 13 in 1990 to only two Member States in 2020: Poland, accounting for 96 per cent of the total EU production, and Czechia.


Similarly, the consumption of hard coal has consistently decreased since 1990, with an accelerated decrease since 2019. In 2020, the EU consumption of hard coal is estimated at 144 million tons, 63 per cent less than in 1990.

The reasons for lower consumption of hard coal are the energy shift towards natural gas and renewables for electricity production, as well as a decrease in the production of coke oven coke, used in various industries such as for the production of iron and steel.

Similarly, to hard coal, the continuous decrease of brown coal consumption has accelerated from 2019 onwards. In 2020, the EU consumption of brown coal, mostly concerning lignite, is estimated at 246 million tons, or 64 per cent less than in 1990.



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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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