The Future of Global Coal Production (2021-2024F)
The Future of Global Coal Production Visualized
Coal is the world’s most affordable energy fuel, and as such, the world’s biggest commodity market for electricity generation.
Unfortunately, that low-cost energy comes at a high cost for the environment, with coal being the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions.
Despite its large footprint, coal was in high demand in 2021. As economies reopened following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries struggled to meet resurgent energy needs. As a readily available low-cost energy source, coal filled the supply gap, with global coal consumption increasing by 450 million tonnes or around +6% in 2021.
This graphic looks at the IEA’s coal production forecasts for 2024, and the specific countries projected to reduce or increase their production over the next few years.
Which Countries Are Increasing (or Reducing) Coal Production?
Global coal production was a topic of scrutiny at the COP26 conference held in November of 2021, where 40 countries pledged to stop issuing permits and direct government support for new coal-fired power plants.
However, many of the top coal-producing countries did not commit to the pledge. China, the U.S., India, Russia, and Australia abstained, and of those five, only the U.S. is forecasted to reduce coal production in the next two years.
|Country||Coal Production (2021)||Coal Production (2024F)||Share (2024F)||Change (2021–2024F)|
|🇨🇳 China||3,925 Mt||3,982 Mt||50%||+57 Mt|
|🇮🇳 India||793 Mt||955 Mt||12%||+162 Mt|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||576 Mt||570 Mt||7%||-6 Mt|
|🇺🇸 United States||528 Mt||484 Mt||6%||-44 Mt|
|🇦🇺 Australia||470 Mt||477 Mt||6%||+7 Mt|
|🇷🇺 Russia||429 Mt||445 Mt||5%||+16 Mt|
|🇪🇺 European Union||329 Mt||247 Mt||3%||-82 Mt|
|🌐 Other||839 Mt||855 Mt||11%||+16 Mt|
With 15 EU countries signing the pledge, the European Union is forecasted to see the greatest drop in coal production at 82 million tonnes, along with the greatest forecasted reduction in coal consumption (101 million tonnes, a 23% reduction).
Reducing Coal-Fired Power Generation in the U.S.
The U.S. and Indonesia are the other two major producers forecasted to reduce their reliance on coal. The U.S. is projected to cut coal production by 7.5% or 44 million tonnes, while Indonesia’s reduction is forecasted at 6 million tonnes, or just a 1% cut of its 2021 production.
Despite not joining the COP26 pledge, the U.S. is still noticeably pursuing short and long-term initiatives to reduce coal-fired power generation.
In fact, 85% of U.S. electric generating capacity retirements in 2022 are forecast to be coal-fired generators, and there are further plans to retire 28% (59 GW) of currently operational coal-fired capacity by 2035.
Coal Makes Energy Ends Meet in China and India
Modern consumption and production are instead focused in Asia.
China and India produce almost 60% of the world’s coal, and are expected to increase their production by more than 200 million tonnes per year, collectively. All this coal goes towards meeting the insatiable energy demands of both nations.
While China has pledged to start cutting down coal consumption in 2026, the country also announced the construction of 43 new coal-fired power plants to meet energy demand until then. Part of the additional production is driven by a need to reduce the country’s dependence on coal imports, which are expected to drop by 51 million tonnes or 16% from 2021–2024.
By 2024, China’s coal consumption is forecasted to rise by 3.3% and India’s by 12.2%, which would make the two countries responsible for two-thirds of the world’s coal consumption.
Mapped: Renewable Energy and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
This graphic describes new U.S. renewable energy installations by state along with nameplate capacity, planned to come online in 2023.
Renewable and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
Renewable energy, in particular solar power, is set to shine in 2023. This year, the U.S. plans to get over 80% of its new energy installations from sources like battery, solar, and wind.
The above map uses data from EIA to highlight planned U.S. renewable energy and battery storage installations by state for 2023.
Texas and California Leading in Renewable Energy
Nearly every state in the U.S. has plans to produce new clean energy in 2023, but it’s not a surprise to see the two most populous states in the lead of the pack.
Even though the majority of its power comes from natural gas, Texas currently leads the U.S. in planned renewable energy installations. The state also has plans to power nearly 900,000 homes using new wind energy.
California is second, which could be partially attributable to the passing of Title 24, an energy code that makes it compulsory for new buildings to have the equipment necessary to allow the easy installation of solar panels, battery storage, and EV charging.
New solar power in the U.S. isn’t just coming from places like Texas and California. In 2023, Ohio will add 1,917 MW of new nameplate solar capacity, with Nevada and Colorado not far behind.
|Top 10 States||Battery (MW)||Solar (MW)||Wind (MW)||Total (MW)|
The state of New York is also looking to become one of the nation’s leading renewable energy providers. The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is making real strides towards this objective with 11% of the nation’s new wind power projects expected to come online in 2023.
According to the data, New Hampshire is the only state in the U.S. that has no new utility-scale renewable energy installations planned for 2023. However, the state does have plans for a massive hydroelectric plant that should come online in 2024.
Renewable energy is considered essential to reduce global warming and CO2 emissions.
In line with the efforts by each state to build new renewable installations, the Biden administration has set a goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
The EIA forecasts the share of U.S. electricity generation from renewable sources rising from 22% in 2022 to 23% in 2023 and to 26% in 2024.
Where are Clean Energy Technologies Manufactured?
As the market for low-emission solutions expands, China dominates the production of clean energy technologies and their components.
Visualizing Where Clean Energy Technologies Are Manufactured
When looking at where clean energy technologies and their components are made, one thing is very clear: China dominates the industry.
The country, along with the rest of the Asia Pacific region, accounts for approximately 75% of global manufacturing capacity across seven clean energy technologies.
Based on the IEA’s 2023 Energy Technology Perspectives report, the visualization above breaks down global manufacturing capacity by region for mass-manufactured clean energy technologies, including onshore and offshore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicles (EVs), fuel cell trucks, heat pumps, and electrolyzers.
The State of Global Manufacturing Capacity
Manufacturing capacity refers to the maximum amount of goods or products a facility can produce within a specific period. It is determined by several factors, including:
- The size of the manufacturing facility
- The number of machines or production lines available
- The skill level of the workforce
- The availability of raw materials
According to the IEA, the global manufacturing capacity for clean energy technologies may periodically exceed short-term production needs. Currently this is true especially for EV batteries, fuel cell trucks, and electrolyzers. For example, while only 900 fuel cell trucks were sold globally in 2021, the aggregate self-reported capacity by manufacturers was 14,000 trucks.
With that said, there still needs to be a significant increase in manufacturing capacity in the coming decades if demand aligns with the IEA’s 2050 net-zero emissions scenario. Such developments require investments in new equipment and technology, developing the clean energy workforce, access to raw and refined materials, and optimizing production processes to improve efficiency.
What Gives China the Advantage?
Of the above clean energy technologies and their components, China averages 65% of global manufacturing capacity. For certain components, like solar PV wafers, this percentage is as high as 96%.
Here’s a breakdown of China’s manufacturing capacity per clean energy technology.
|Technology||China’s share of global manufacturing capacity, 2021|
|Solar PV Systems||85%|
|Fuel Cell Trucks||47%|
So, what gives China this advantage in the clean energy technology sector? According to the IEA report, the answer lies in a combination of factors:
- Low manufacturing costs
- A dominance in clean energy metal processing, namely cobalt, lithium, and rare earth metals
- Sustained policy support and investment
The mixture of these factors has allowed China to capture a significant share of the global market for clean technologies while driving down the cost of clean energy worldwide.
As the market for low-emission solutions expands, China’s dominance in the sector will likely continue in the coming years and have notable implications for the global energy and emission landscape.
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