Global coal production sees record drop

Global coal production sees record drop
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Worldwide coal production fell by a record amount in 2016, energy industry analysts reported on Tuesday.

According to an annual report from BP, global coal production fell by 6.2 percent in 2016, the largest decline since BP began reporting the total in 1950. The decline was driven by shrinking coal production in the U.S., down 19 percent, and China, down 7.9 percent.

Energy-sector coal consumption dipped for the second straight year, falling by 1.7 percent and bringing the fuel’s share of electricity production to 28.1 percent globally, its lowest level since 2004. Falling consumption in the U.S. and China, down 8.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, drove coal’s overall decline.

Renewable energy was the fastest-growing source of electricity last year, increasing by 12 percent. The industry now accounts for 4 percent of primary energy production worldwide.

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In a separate report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Friday, officials noted that U.S. coal consumption in 2016 — 677 million short tons — is the lowest figure since 1984.

BP’s annual report — titled the “Statistical Review of World Energy” — illustrates the extent to which the global energy market is changing, with the declining price of natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar increasingly diminishing coal’s role in electricity production.

“Global energy markets are in transition,” Bob Dudley, the CEO of BP Group, said in a statement announcing the report.

“The longer-term trends we can see in this data are changing the patterns of demand and the mix of supply as the world works to meet the challenge of supplying the energy it needs while also reducing carbon emissions.”

President Trump has made reviving the U.S. coal industry a key issue for his presidency.

But even some of his advisers acknowledge that other sources of fuel are increasingly marginalizing coal. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn told reporters last month that, given the rise of natural gas and renewable power, coal “doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock.”