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Which Countries Are Most Reliant on Coal?

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Which Countries Are Most Reliant on Coal?

Which Countries Are Most Reliant on Coal?

Global energy policies and discussions in recent years have been focused on the importance of decarbonizing the energy system in the transition to net zero.

However, despite efforts to reduce carbon emissions, fossil fuels still account for more than 80% of primary energy use globally—and coal, the world’s most affordable energy fuel, is also the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions.

The graphic above uses data from the Statistical Review of World Energy to show how much select countries rely on fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Coal’s Importance in Emerging Economies

Coal is the largest source of electricity generation and the primary fuel for iron, steel, and cement production, making it central to climate and energy discussions.

The fossil fuel continues to be an affordable and abundant source of energy, particularly in emerging economies where demand is expanding rapidly.

South Africa is the world’s most coal-dependent nation featured in the statistical review, with coal accounting for 69% of its primary energy consumption in 2022.

Primary energy use, by fuel type (2022)
CountryCoal %Oil %Gas %Other %
🇿🇦 South Africa69%22%3%6%
🇨🇳 China55%18%8%18%
🇮🇳 India55%27%6%11%
🇮🇩 Indonesia45%31%14%10%
🇻🇳 Vietnam45%22%6%27%
🇵🇱 Poland 42%34%15%9%
🇵🇭 Philippines40%42%5%13%
🇯🇵 Japan27%37%20%15%
🇦🇺 Australia26%35%25%14%
🇹🇷 Türkiye25%30%26%19%
🇰🇷 South Korea23%43%17%17%
🇺🇦 Ukraine22%17%30%31%
🇲🇾 Malaysia19%36%37%8%
🇩🇪 Germany19%35%23%23%
🇹🇭 Thailand14%47%32%7%
🇷🇺 Russia 11%24%51%14%
🇺🇸 U.S.10%38%33%19%
🇮🇹 Italy5%40%38%16%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom3%36%35%25%
🇫🇷 France2%35%16%46%

Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding. Select countries shown above.

In 2022, global consumption of coal surpassed 8 billion tonnes in a single year for the first time, with China and India being the two biggest consumers in absolute terms.

China’s power sector alone accounts for one-third of global coal consumption. Meanwhile, with a growth rate of 6% annually, India has doubled its coal consumption since 2007—and is expected to lead the growth in coal consumption for years to come.

Coal Demand in Developed Countries

U.S. consumption of coal has dropped almost 50% compared to the early 2010s.

With initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes nearly $370 billion to accelerate the U.S.’s energy transition, coal consumption is expected to remain on a downward trajectory in the United States.

Source: BP Energy Outlook 2023. The forecast is based on BP’s scenario for global net-zero emissions by 2050.

The same movement is seen in the European Union.

France, for example, only has 2.5% of its primary energy consumption coming from coal, a share that is just half of what it was in the early 2000s.

In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, coal still accounts for 18.9% of total energy consumption (a small increase over 2021, due to the energy crisis). However, a decade ago in 2012, that number stood even higher at 24.9% of primary energy use.

With coal consumption falling in developed nations but remaining steady in emerging economies, the International Energy Agency projects that coal demand will plateau at 2022 levels until 2025 when it will begin to fall.

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Energy Shift

Visualized: The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to analyze five major clean energy stocks and explore the factors driving this growth.

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This line chart shows the growth of clean energy stocks and hints at their cumulative five-year returns.

The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Over the last few years, energy investment trends have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Long-term energy investors now see significant returns from clean energy stocks, especially compared to those invested in fossil fuels alone.

For this graphic, Visual Capitalist has collaborated with EnergyX to examine the rise of clean energy stocks and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this growth.

Sustainable Energy Stock Performance

In 2023, the IEA reported that 62% of all energy investment went toward sustainable sources. As the world embraces sustainable energy and technologies like EVs, it’s no surprise that clean energy companies provide solid returns for their investors over long periods.

Taking the top-five clean energy stocks by market cap (as of April 2024) and charting their five-year cumulative returns, it is clear that investments in clean energy are growing:

CompanyPrice: 01/04/2019Price: 12/29/20245-Year-Return %
First Solar, Inc.$46.32$172.28272%
Enphase Energy, Inc.$5.08$132.142,501%
Consolidated Edison, Inc.$76.55$90.9719%
NextEra Energy, Inc.$43.13$60.7441%
Brookfield Renewable Partners$14.78$26.2878%

promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

But how does this compare to the performance of fossil fuel stocks?

When comparing the performance of the S&P Global Oil Index and the S&P Clean Energy Index between 2019 and 2023, we see that the former returned 15%, whereas the latter returned an impressive 41%. This trend demonstrates the potential for clean energy stocks to yield significant returns on an industry level, sparking optimism and excitement for potential investors.

A Shift In Returns

With global investment trends moving away from traditional, non-sustainable sources, the companies that could shape the energy transition provide investors with alternative opportunities and avenues for growth.

One such company is EnergyX. The lithium technology company has patented a groundbreaking technology that can improve lithium extraction rates by an incredible 300%, and its stock price has grown tenfold since its first offering in 2021.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site
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Energy Shift

Visualized: A Decade of Clean Energy Investment

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist has partnered with EnergyX to explore the growth of global clean energy investment.

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Visualized: A Decade of Clean Energy Investment

Global energy investment is growing every year. But recently, investments in clean energy have been significantly outpacing investments in fossil fuels.

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to explore how global energy investment has changed and learn how investments in clean energy are starting to pay off for their investors.

The Rise of Sustainable Energy Investment

Propelled by various climate initiatives such as the Paris Agreement and the widespread adoption of EVs, global investment in sustainable energy surged to over $1.7 trillion in 2023, the highest ever, and the IEA projects that this growth could continue:

Energy Product20202021202220232030F
Clean Electrification$0.97T$1.05$1.21T$1.34T$1.65T
Low-Emission Fuels$0.01T$0.01$0.01T$0.02T$0.05T
Energy Efficiency$0.28T$0.35$0.39T$0.38T$0.49T
Clean Energy Total$1.26T$1.41T$1.61T$1.74T$2.19T
Natural Gas$0.26T$0.27T$0.31T$0.32T$0.35T
Oil$0.42T$0.48T$0.52T$0.55T$0.60T
Coal$0.16T$0.16T$0.18T$0.18T$0.11T
Fossil Fuel Total$0.84T$0.91T$1.01T$1.05T$1.06T
Total Energy Investment$2.10T$2.32T$2.62T$2.79T$3.25T

promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

Between 2020 and 2030, global investment in sustainable energy could increase by 74% to nearly $2.2 trillion, compared to just 26% additional investment in fossil fuels, with a forecast total of $1.06 trillion. This shows that sustainability is the future of energy investment.

Sustainable Investor Success Stories

While the growing investments in clean energy show that the world embraces sustainability, energy investors will still look for decent returns. Now, in 2024, clean energy investments are beginning to bear fruit. Here are just a few examples:

  • Between 2019 and 2023, Tesla had a cumulative return of 1,073%
  • NextEra Energy’s quarterly dividend increased by over 10% as of February 2024
  • Investors in EnergyX have 10x’ed their investments since the company’s first offering in 2021

Lithium plays a critical role in powering electric vehicles (EVs) and facilitating the transition to sustainable energy. EnergyX has patented technology that enhances lithium extraction rates by up to 300%, contributing to meeting the growing demand for lithium and fueling the EVs of the future.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site
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