Global Coal Industry
The global coal industry is estimated to grow over 95% by 2015, approaching close to $920 billion in worth. This would represent more than 45% growth for the five-year period to 2015, exceeding 11 billion short tons of consumption. Last year alone, coal was worth almost $470 billion in 2010, up nearly 18%, reports MarketLine. Coal meets almost 30% of the world’s primary energy demand and provides more than 40% of global electricity, according to the World Coal Association (WCA).
Coal, a fossil fuel derived from waterbed vegetation, is distributed unevenly worldwide with the greatest reserves in Russia, the US, India and China. There are more than 845 billion tons of coal throughout the world, according to WCA estimates. Currently, the earth has a great enough coal supply to last nearly 120 years. Over the next two decades, the world’s consumption of coal will increase almost 55%. Environmental concern over coal as an energy source is being mitigated by the fact that CO2 emissions from coal plants have been slashed 40% this century compared with the last century.
Burning coal currently releases 12 billion tons of CO2 on an annual basis, reports the World Nuclear Association. “Clean coal” technologies are being developed to make coal a safer energy source, including a system that productes hydrogen from water, buries CO2 produced and burns hydrogen.
Under the US Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, new coal technology projects benefit from co-financing to reduce power plant production of nitrogen, mercury and sulfur pollutants. Over 2003-2004, the US DOE chose 12 projects, of which four have been completed. In 2009, the program received $800 million in funding and five projects were chosen in the third round of proposals for the clean coal initiative. General R&D funding, including clean coal technologies, will reach $23 billion in 2011, according to Visiongain.
Key Regional Market Share
The world’s leading producer of hard coal is China, followed by the US, India, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Colombia. Global coal production rose almost 7% in 2010, a 5% greater increase than in 2009. Non-OECD countries spurred production at almost 8.5%. Last year, the world’s biggest brown coal producer was Germany followed by Indonesia and Russia. Turkey was in fourth place followed by Australia, the US, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic and Serbia. Non-OECD production represented 75% growth, with Indonesia in the top spot. Asia-Pacific represents almost 72% of the global coal market worth.
The world’s heaviest coal consumers are China and the US. India is the third-biggest consumer followed by Russia, Japan, South Africa, Germany, Korea and Poland.
Key Coal Companies
- Top companies leading the global coal market include China Shenhua Energy, China Coal Energy, Consol Energy, Peabody Energy Corp, Cameco Corp, Yanzhou Coal Mining, Adaro Energy Tbk and Patriot Coal Corporation.
- China Shenhua Energy Company, coal producer and seller, had revenue of almost $17,760 million in 2010, representing profit of over $4,430 million at a 12% return on invested capital (ROIC). Its three-year compound growth rate (CGR) on revenue reached almost 24%.
- China Coal Energy’s main offering is thermal coal and coaking coal. In 2010, its revenue exceeded $7,865 million, with profit of almost $970 million, representing ROIC of nearly 7.5%, with a three-year CGR of over 20%.
With coal reserves to last almost 120 years, the global coal market is in a stronger position than oil and gas reserves, which are set to last just over 45 years and almost 60 years, respectively. Moving forward, coal will have to compete with cleaner sources of energy unless clean coal technologies render it safer. Lessening the dangers of burning coal will boost the market’s potential. Governments eager to reduce environmental damage while benefiting from relatively inexpensive energy are expected to increase investment in clean coal technologies and carbon capture and storage.
Leading Industry Associations
- International Energy Agency www.iea.org
- World Coal Association www.worldcoal.org
- American Coal Ash Association www.acaa-usa.org
- US National Coal Council www.nationalcoalcouncil.org
- American Coal Council www.americancoalcouncil.org
- European Association for Coal and Lignite www.euracoal.org
- European Coal Combustion Products Association www.ecoba.com
- China National Coal Association www.chinacoal.gov.cn
- Coal Association of Canada www.coal.ca