Statistics Explained

Coal production and consumption statistics


Data extracted in March 2022.

Planned article update: April 2023.

Highlights

In 2021, the EU production of hard coal was 57 million tonnes, 79 % less than the 277 million tonnes of 1990.
From 2018 to 2021, the EU reduced its consumption of both hard coal and brown coal by a fourth.
Coal production 2022 - new infographic.jpg


This article explains how consumption and supply of coal in the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)[1] have evolved, highlighting the trends in production and consumption of the main types of solid fossil fuels: hard coal and brown coal. In addition the article gives some figures on the supply of coke oven coke.

Full article

Consumption and production of hard coal

As illustrated in Figure 1 inland consumption of hard coal in the EU decreased steadily in the 1990s. Starting in 1999 and for almost a decade, the yearly hard coal consumption stabilised at around 300 million tonnes. After a first sharp decline in 2008 and another in 2009, hard coal consumption stabilised around a new plateau of 250 million tonnes from 2010 onwards. Finally, in 2019, another strong decline in hard coal consumption started, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The 2021 hard coal consumption of the EU is estimated to have reached 160 million tonnes, 27 % less than three years earlier.

Production of hard coal in the EU has decreased almost continuously from 1990, more consistently than consumption. In 2021, the EU production was 57 million tonnes, 79 % less than the 277 million tonnes of 1990. In 2020, 39 % of inland consumption could be covered by production in the EU, compared to 71 % in 1990. The gap between the two was mostly covered by imports (see Import dependency of hard coal). The 2021 figures are based on cumulated monthly data.

Figure 1: Inland consumption and production of hard coal, EU, 1990-2021 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff), (nrg_cb_sffm)


In 1990, 13 Member States of the current EU were producing hard coal. In 2021 there were only two left: Poland and Czechia. Poland produced 55 million tonnes of hard coal (96 % of the total EU production) and Czechia produced 2.2 million tonnes (4 %). Compared to 2012, which was the last peak in the EU hard coal production (106 million tonnes), in 2021 Poland decreased its production by 31 % and Czechia by 81 %. All other former hard coal producers stopped their production.

Poland (41 %) and Germany (23 %) together accounted for almost two thirds of the total hard coal consumption of the EU in 2021, followed by France, the Netherlands, Italy and Czechia (each between 3 % and 6 %). Figure 2 presents the hard coal consumption of the EU from 2016 to 2021 by Member State. Apart from Malta, which stopped using hard coal in 1996, every other country in the EU reports consumption of hard coal ranging from a few thousand tonnes to several million tonnes.

Figure 2: Inland consumption of hard coal by Member State, EU, 2016-2021 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff), (nrg_cb_sffm)


One country in EFTA still produces hard coal in 2020: Norway. Stable in the 1990s around 300 thousand tonnes, Norway’s hard coal production reached a peak of 4 million tonnes in 2007, before decreasing again to around 70 thousand tonnes in 2020.

Consumption of hard coal by EFTA countries stayed stable around 1 million tonnes since 1990. In 2020, two EFTA countries, Norway and Iceland, reported a hard coal consumption of 1.02 million tonnes.

Import dependency of hard coal

Solid fossil fuels had a lower import dependency rate of 35.8 % in 2020 compared to other fossil fuels, such as oil or natural gas (see Statistics Explained article on EU energy mix and import dependency). However, this dependency rate accounts for all solid fossil fuels, including brown coal (with a high production and negligible trade) and many secondary products where the EU is a net exporter. Hard coal is the main type of coal with a noticeable import dependency, reaching 57.4 % in 2020.

Both the solid fossil fuels and hard coal import dependency curves had similar patterns (see Figure 3). Starting in 1990 at 18.7 % for solid fossil fuels and 29.6 % for hard coal, import dependency began to increase in the middle of the 1990s. By 2004, the rate of increase was slowing down, before reaching its highest point in 2018: 43.8 % for solid fossil fuels and 68.3 % for hard coal. The reason for this increase in imports dependency is that, although both production and consumption have decreased in the EU since 1990, consumption has decreased slower than production; the resulting gap was mostly filled by imports.

Figure 3: Import dependency for solid fossil fuels and hard coal, EU, 1990-2020
Source: Eurostat (nrg_bal_c)


In 2020, more than half of the EU countries had an import dependency rate greater than 90 % for hard coal (see Figure 4). The difference between hard coal net imports and consumption is usually explained by hard coal drawn from the countries’ own existing stocks. For Poland and Czechia (as well as Norway for EFTA countries), the difference also includes their own hard coal production. Seven EU countries reported an import dependency above 100 %: Greece, Luxembourg, Croatia, Romania, Cyprus, Belgium and Sweden; these countries are importing more coal than they use, usually to build stocks. One EU country reported an import dependency rate below 0 %: Portugal, who exports its remaining stocks as the country phases out coal.

Figure 4: Import dependency for hard coal by country, 2020
Source: Eurostat (nrg_bal_c)


In 2020, Russia supplied more than half (55.6 %) of the EU’s hard coal imports, followed by the United States (17.2 %) and Australia (15.3 %). Other important suppliers included Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Canada. In the 2010s, imports from most of these suppliers decreased or remained stable as consumption of hard coal in the EU decreased. The exception was Russia, for which EU countries reported an increase in imports reaching a high of 61 million tonnes in 2018, before decreasing afterwards (see Figure 5).

Coal imports also depend on market prices and other factors, which can lead to changes in suppliers. Traditional hard coal suppliers to the EU such as Ukraine, Venezuela or Norway have seen their imports decrease in recent years; at the same time, new suppliers such as Kazakhstan, Mozambique or the United Kingdom have emerged.

Figure 5: Net imports of hard coal, EU, 2011-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ti_sff), (nrg_te_sff)

Consumption and production of brown coal

The 2021 consumption of brown coal in the EU is estimated at 277 million tonnes, 26 % less than in 2018. Figure 6 presents the trend since 1990. In the 1990s, the consumption decreased rapidly, broadly stagnating between 2000 and 2015 in a range of 400 to 450 million tonnes per year. From 2018 to 2020, consumption of brown coal decreased sharply, before increasing slightly in 2021.

The brown coal production trend is very similar to its consumption trend; brown coal is mostly produced in the countries of the consumption, while imports and exports are negligible. The 2021 figures are based on cumulated monthly data.

Figure 6: Inland consumption of brown coal, EU, 1990-2021 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff), (nrg_cb_sffm)


Germany represented 46 % of the total brown coal consumption of the EU in 2021, followed by Poland (19 %), Czechia (11 %), Bulgaria (10 %),Romania (6 %) and Greece (5 %). Figure 7 presents the brown coal consumption of the EU from 2016 to 2021 by Member State.

Brown coal is absent from the EFTA countries’ energy mix (production and consumption).

Figure 7: Inland consumption of brown coal by Member State, EU, 2016-2021(million tonnes).png
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff), (nrg_cb_sffm)

Deliveries of coal to power plants

A large part of hard coal (49 % in 2020) and the majority of brown coal (92 % in 2020) is used for power production. In 2020, 72 million tonnes of hard coal were delivered to power plants in the EU producing electricity and heat. For brown coal, this amount was 226 million tonnes.

Figure 8 shows that since 2013, hard coal deliveries for power production show a declining trend; in electricity and heat production, hard coal is replaced more and more by natural gas and renewable energy sources. Furthermore, a large part of hard coal is used in the industry sector, particularly in coke ovens (see Figure 9). Brown coal deliveries to power plants also show a declining trend since 2013. From 2019 onwards, deliveries of both hard coal and brown coal to power plants have decreased significantly.

In EFTA countries, deliveries of hard coal to power plants hovered around 30 thousand tonnes between 1990 and 2020; they only represent a marginal use of hard coal (3 % in 2020) as EFTA countries use hard coal mainly in their industry sector.

Figure 8: Deliveries of brown coal and hard coal to power plants, EU, 1990-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)

Deliveries of coal to coking plants and coke oven coke production

Hard coal (more specifically coking coal) is essential to produce coke oven coke for the steel and iron industry. In 2020, coking plants in the EU consumed 40 million tonnes of coking coal to produce 30 million tonnes of coke oven coke. Coking plant activity was stable until 2019, when it started to decline. (see Figure 9).

No activity for coke ovens was recorded in EFTA countries.

Figure 9: Hard coal deliveries to coke ovens and coke oven coke production, EU, 2016-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)


Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The reporting of coal statistics is based on Energy statistics Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 on energy statistics. The production and consumption data of hard coal, brown coal and coke oven coke between 1990 and 2020 are based on annual statistics (Annex B of the Regulation). For the latest available 2021 data, cumulative monthly data was used (Annex C of the Regulation). These cumulative monthly data could be considered as provisional/estimates of annual statistics.

Methodological note

The methodologies and data used for the calculations presented in this article do not make it possible to identify the specific contribution of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic compared to the existing trends from the data. Future data will allow Eurostat to ascertain whether the observed trends are maintained during and after the pandemic.

Direct access to

Other articles
Tables
Database
Dedicated section
Publications
Methodology
Visualisations




Energy Statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
Final energy consumption by product (ten00123)
Energy statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quanta)
Supply, transformation and consumption - commodity balances (nrg_cb)
Supply, transformation and consumption of solid fossil fuels (nrg_cb_sff)
Energy statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - quantities, monthly data (nrg_quantm)
Supply, transformation and consumption - commodity balances - monthly data (nrg_cb_m)
Supply, transformation and consumption of solid fossil fuels - monthly data (nrg_cb_sffm)
Energy statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quanta)
Trade by partner country (nrg_t)
Imports (nrg_ti)
Imports of solid fossil fuels by partner countries (nrg_ti_sff)
Energy statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quanta)
Trade by partner country (nrg_t)
Exports (nrg_te)
Exports of solid fossil fuels by partner countries (nrg_te_sff)
Energy statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quanta)
Energy balances(nrg_bal)
Complete energy balances (nrg_bal_c)

Notes

  1. Data for the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) does not include Switzerland, as there is no agreement in place regarding the dissemination by Eurostat of Swiss energy statistics.