Coal is the most abundant energy in the world, but opponents to its use are growing louder. Huge carbon emissions have caused climate change, leading to public concerns. Compared with other types of energy, coal has become less competitive. In the US, for example, the emergence of shale gas has resulted in the fact that some coal output has been priced out of the market. US coal demand last year was close to 920 million tons. However, falls in the price of natural gas will cut US coal demand by 60 to 80 million tons this year.
Figures show that coal meets about 30 percent of global energy needs and generates more than 40 percent of the world’s electricity. In the world’s most populous countries, China and India, the percentage of energy needs met by coal even reaches to about 70 percent. Coal consumption in China fell last year, with imports down 11 percent, the first fall in a decade. With its economic growth having slowed down, China is making strenuous efforts to cut coal use to reduce pollution. As coal-fired electricity plants are not running at their full capacity, combined with adequate coal supply, the global coal prices have been pushed down. Export prices of coal have fallen about 60 percent from last year’s peak.