U.S. coal use rose in Q1, but declined over longer term

U.S. coal consumption rose 10 percent in the first three months of 2013 compared with the same period for 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this week, but has declined by one-fifth over five years.

Consumption increased to 229.5 million tons in the January-March period from  208 million tons in the first quarter of 2012, according to preliminary figures cited in the agency’s quarterly coal report.

More than 90 percent of coal used during both periods was burned in electric power plants, the agency said, with the rest consumed for other industrial uses.

Despite the first-quarter rise this year, coal consumption declined by nearly 20 percent over the first quarter five years earlier, according to the agency’s statistics.

Annual consumption also dropped about 20 percent, from 1.1 billion tons  in 2008 to 890.5 million tons last year.