Uses and Demand

In some countries, coal is burned directly for heat or cooking, but most coal is used in power plants to generate electricity. Coal has many uses other than electricity. Materials that contain coal and coal coke (a concentrated form of coal that is stripped of its volatile materials) are used in many products we use every day, including:

  • Tar
  • Perfumes
  • Golf balls
  • Chalk
  • Paper clips
  • Sugar substitute
  • Soap
  • Aspirin
  • Dyes

Coal accounts for 38% of the global electricity generation and is projected to decrease only slightly by 2023 according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) Coal Report 2018.  Some countries, such as Germany and the US, have recently been closing coal-fired power plants, while the use of coal in Asia, especially China and India, continues to rise.

IEA, "Coal demand in selected countries/regions in 2000, 2017, and 2023", IEA, Paris

How a Coal Plant Works

Alabama Power's Plant Miller How Electricity Is Generated 3D Animated Tour.