Coal production and consumption statistics


Data extracted in July 2021.

Planned article update: July 2022.

Highlights
In 2020, the EU production of hard coal was 56 million tonnes, 80 % less than the 277 million tonnes of 1990.
From 2018 to 2020, the EU reduced its consumption of both hard coal and brown coal by a third.
Coal production and consumption copy Kreslicí plátno 1.png


This article explains how consumption and supply of coal in the European Union (EU) 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. The 2020 hard coal consumption of the EU is estimated to have reached 144 million tonnes, 35 % less than two years prior.

Production of hard coal in the EU has decreased almost continuously from 1990 and this long-term decrease has been more severe than for consumption. In 2020, the EU production was 56 million tonnes, 80 % 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 2020 figures are estimates based on early annual data.

Figure 1: Inland consumption and production of hard coal, EU, 1990-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)


In 1990, 13 Member States of the current EU were producing hard coal. In 2020 there were only two left: Poland and Czechia. Poland produced 54.4 million tonnes of hard coal (96 % of the total EU production) and Czechia produced 2.1 million tonnes (4 %). Compared to 2012, which was the last peak in the EU hard coal production (106 million tonnes), in 2020 Poland decreased its production by 31 % and Czechia by 81 %. All other former hard coal producers (including Germany and Spain) stopped their production.

Poland (43 %) and Germany (22 %) together accounted for almost two thirds of the total hard coal consumption of the EU in 2020, followed by Italy, France, the Netherlands and Czechia (each between 3 % and 6 %). Figure 2 presents the hard coal consumption of the EU from 2015 to 2020 by Member State.

Figure 2: Inland consumption of hard coal by Member State, EU, 2015-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)

Consumption and production of brown coal

The 2020 consumption of brown coal in the EU is estimated at 246 million tonnes, 33 % less than two years prior in 2018. Figure 3 presents the trend since 1990. In the 1990s, the consumption decreased rapidly, floating between 2000 and 2015 in the range of 400 to 450 million tonnes per year. In 2016, consumption of brown coal started a downwards trend, a decline which accelerated from 2019 onwards.

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 2020 figures are estimates based on early annual data.

Figure 3: Inland consumption of brown coal, EU, 1990-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)


Germany represented 44 % of the total brown coal consumption of the EU in 2019, followed by Poland (19 %), Czechia (12 %), Bulgaria (9 %) and Romania and Greece (both 6 %). Figure 4 presents the brown coal consumption of the EU from 2015 to 2020 by Member State.

Figure 4: Inland consumption of brown coal by Member State, EU, 2015-2020 (million tonnes).png
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff)

Deliveries of coal to power plants

A big part of hard coal (53 % in 2019) and the majority of brown coal (93 % in 2019) is used for power production. In 2019, 93 million tonnes of hard coal were delivered to power plants in the EU producing electricity and heat. For brown coal, this amount was 285 million tonnes.

Both series were decreasing in the 1990s, then remained mostly stable until 2012 (see Figure 5). Since 2013, hard coal deliveries for power production show a declining trend; in the electricity and heat production hard coal is more and more replaced by natural gas and renewable energy sources. Brown coal deliveries to power plants also show a declining trend since 2013, with a slight increase in 2017. From 2019 onwards, deliveries of both hard coal and brown coal to power plants have decreased significantly.

The 2020 figures are estimates based on monthly data, and take only into account electricity production by main activity producers.

Figure 5: Deliveries of brown coal and hard coal to power plants, EU, 1990-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff) (nrg_cb_sffm)

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. The latest available annual figures show that in 2019 coking plants in the EU consumed 45 million tonnes of coking coal to produce 33 million tonnes of coke oven coke. In 2020, coking plants produced 30 million tonnes of coke oven coke. This is a new downward trend compared to previous years where coking plant activity was stable (see Figure 6).

The 2020 figures are estimates based on early annual data (‘Coke oven coke production’) and monthly data (‘Hard coal deliveries to coke ovens’).

Figure 6: Hard coal deliveries to coke ovens and coke oven coke production, EU, 2016-2020 (million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sff) (nrg_cb_sffm)


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 and brown coal between 1990 and 2020 are based on annual statistics (Annex B of the Regulation). Almost all 2020 figures are based on early annual questionnaires of solid fuels (voluntary data collection). These data are considered provisional/estimates of the annual statistics. Only for the 'delivery of brown coal and hard coal to power plants' and ‘deliveries of hard coal to coke ovens’ cumulative monthly data for 2020 were used (Annex C of the Regulation). These cumulative monthly data could also 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.

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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)