Global coal consumption is expected to increase from 127 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2006 to 190 quadrillion Btu in 2030 at an average annual rate of 1.7%, according to a report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2009 report says that the non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Asia region will account for 90% of the projected increase.
China’s coal use alone is expected to grow by nearly 60%.
With the absence of legislation to limit the growth of coal use, countries such as the US, China and India will turn to coal instead of more expensive fuels, the report warns.
However, Japan and OECD Europe will see a reduction in coal consumption due to preferences for other forms of energy sources - renewable energy, natural gas and nuclear power - and a slow growth in demand.
Consumption in OECD Europe is expected to decrease from 13.2 quadrillion Btu in 2006, representing 28% of the OECD total, to 12.0 quadrillion Btu in 2030.
By 2030, however, growth is projected to stabilise with government policies expected to be in place and methods for the use of natural gas in electricity and industrial sectors on the rise.
Coal consumption in OECD countries is expected to increase from 46.9 quadrillion Btu in 2006 to 47.8 quadrillion Btu in 2015.
It is expected to go down, however, from 37% in 2006 to 27% in 2030, despite an increase in consumption in North America and OECD Asia.
The US - which relies on coal for generating electricity - accounted for 92% of total coal consumption in North America at 22.5 quadrillion Btu in 2006.
Coal use is expected to increase to 26.6 quadrillion Btu by 2030.