What Do We Use Coal For? (& Sectors & Countries That Use The Most)

In this guide we look at what we use coal for in society.

We also outline the sectors and countries that use the most coal.


Summary – What Do We Use Coal For?

Electricity generation is the main thing we use coal for, followed by the production and manufacturing of materials like steel and cement.

China is by far the biggest consumer of coal by a significant margin.

Looking into the future, some countries and parts of the world like China, India and Southeast Asia are expected to increase coal consumption at least in the short term, while other countries are already transitioning more into natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy.

Overall, it’s estimated fossil fuels are still used in 96% of the things we use everyday.


Sectors That Use The Most Coal


worldwide … the most significant uses of coal are in electricity generation, steel production, cement manufacturing and as a liquid fuel.

– worldcoal.org


Coal supplies a third of all energy used worldwide and makes up 38% of electricity generation, as well as playing a crucial role in industries such as iron and steel.

– iea.org


United States

The amounts—in million short tons (MMst)—and percent of total U.S. coal consumption by consuming sectors in 2017 were:

– Electric power—664.7 MMst—92.7%

– Industrial total—51.2 MMst—7.1%

Industrial coke plants—17.4 MMst—2.4%

Industrial combined heat and power—13.4 MMst—1.9%

Other industrial—20.2 MMst—2.8%

– Commercial—1.1 MMst—less than 1%

– Residential and transportation—each less than 1 MMst—less than 1%

– eia.gov


Countries That Use The Most Coal

In order, the countries that used/consumed the most coal in 2017 were:

China (China uses more than 4 times what India uses)


The US



South Korea

South Africa

– statista.com


The top ten coal consuming countries account for over 85% of the world’s total coal consumption, with China alone consuming as much as rest of the world together.

– mining-technology.com


Trends In Coal Use Into The Future

Read more at https://www.iea.org/topics/coal/ 


How Much Coal Do We Have Left?

In this guide, we outline how much coal we might have left on Earth



1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/265510/countries-with-the-largest-coal-consumption/ 

2. https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal 

3. https://www.mining-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-biggest-coal-consumers-4353695/ 

4. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=coal_use 

5. https://www.iea.org/topics/coal/

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