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Coal consumption statistics

From Statistics Explained

Data from May 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article explains how consumption of coal in the European Union (EU) has evolved, highlighting the trends in production and consumption of the main types of solid fossil fuels: hard coal and lignite. It gives a breakdown of the origin of hard coal imported into the EU in 2012, plus figures on the supply of coke for 2011 and 2012.

As illustrated in Figure 1, in 2012 consumption of hard coal remained at about the same level as in 2011, after a clear downward trend from 2007 to 2009.

Figure 1: EU-27 Gross inland consumption of hard coal 1990-2012 (1990=100)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_101a), (nrg_101m)
Figure 2:EU-27 Production of hard coal 1990-2012 (1990=100)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_101a), (nrg_101m)
Figure 3: EU-27 Gross inland consumption of lignite 1990-2012 (1990=100)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_101a), (nrg_101m)
Figure 4: Hard coal imports into the EU-27 by country of origin, 2012 (in kt)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_122m)
Figure 5: EU-27 Coke-oven coke supply, 2011-2012 (in kt)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_101m)

Main statistical findings

Production and consumption of hard coal

Gross inland consumption of hard coal in the EU-27 decreased steadily in the 1990s. Then, from 1999 to 2007, it remained relatively stable at between 360 and 380 Mt. Further large decreases in consumption were observed once again in 2008 and, above all, in 2009, when gross inland consumption of hard coal in the EU-27 reached its lowest level at 292 Mt, 42 % less than in 1990. The most recent figures for 2012 indicate that, at least for the moment, the decrease in coal consumption is not continuing, since a slight increase (in the order of 6 %) was recorded compared with 2009.

Production of hard coal has decreased almost continuously from 1990 to 2012, and the relative change has been more pronounced than for consumption: in 2012, production was only about a third of that for 1990 (see Figure 2). In 2012, about 38 % of gross inland consumption could be covered by production in the EU-27, compared with 74 % in 1990. Increasing imports explain the more stable period in consumption between 2000 and 2007.

Production and consumption of lignite

Gross inland consumption of lignite in the EU-27 (see Figure 3) from 1990 to 2007 followed the same trends as hard coal, with a large decrease in the 1990s, followed by a more stable period up to 2007. The decrease in consumption from 1990 to 1999 (40 %) was somewhat more pronounced than for hard coal (29 %). From 2007 to 2010, consumption of lignite decreased further, but only by a small amount. In 2012 the consumption grew with 1 % comparing with 2011. The year with the lowest level of consumption of lignite in the EU over the period from 1990 to 2010 was 2010, at 422 Mt, which is 40 % less than in 1990. Consumption follows production very closely, since very little lignite is imported into the EU or exported from it.

Imports of hard coal

As shown in Figure 4, in 2012, the EU imported 204 Mt of hard coal, compared with 189 Mt in 2011. Russia and Colombia remained the two leading sources, with shares of 26.7 % and 24.9 % respectively (27.5 % and 24.2 % in 2011). The USA came third, with 19.0 % (18.4 % in 2011). Imports from Australia and South Africa decreased slightly, by 0.8 Mt and 1.4 Mt compared with 2011, respectively. The corresponding share of imports from these two countries was 8.1 % (Australia) and 6.9 % (South Africa).

Supply of coke

Production of coke in coke ovens decreased by 6.6 % in 2012 compared with 2011 (see Figure 5). There was also a decrease in net imports of coke: imports to the EU decreased from 9.9 Mt to 7.8 Mt in 2012 and also the exports from the EU decreased slightly, by 0.1 Mt from 2011 to 2012.

Data sources and availability

The information used to create this article was collected on the basis of a monthly questionnaire of solid fuels for 2012 figures.

The production and consumption data of hard coal and lignite between 1990 and 2011 are based on annual data. The 2012 figures are cumulative monthly data, and they are considered provisional, because sometimes information for individual data points were not reported either for confidentiality reasons of simply because the data was not available.

The reporting is based on Energy statistics Regulation 1099/2008/EC.

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Energy Statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Primary production of coal and lignite (ten00077)
Gross inland energy consumption, by fuel (tsdcc320)
Energy dependence (tsdcc310)


Energy Statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy Statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
Supply, transformation, consumption - solid fuels - annual data (nrg_101a)
Supply, transformation - solid fuels - monthly data (nrg_101m)
Energy statistics - imports (by country of origin) (nrg_12)
Imports (by country of origin) - solid fuels - monthly data (nrg_122m)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables, figures and maps on this page (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation 1099/2008 of 22 October 2008 on energy statistics
  • Regulation 844/2010 of 20 September 2010 on energy statistics, as regards the establishment of a set of annual nuclear statistics and the adaptation of the methodological references according to NACE Rev. 2

See also