US thermal coal exports hit 5-year highs and top $5 billion in 2023 – by Gavin Maguire (Reuters – February 1, 2024)

LITTLETON, Colorado, Feb 1 (Reuters) – United States exporters of thermal coal earned more than $5 billion in 2023 as they shipped out more than 32.5 million metric tons of the high-polluting power fuel, data from ship-tracking firm Kpler shows.

The thermal coal export earnings were the second-highest since 2017, following 2022’s $5.7 billion. The total volumes were the highest since 2018 and came as U.S. power producers cut the amount of coal used in electricity generation to the lowest this century, data from energy think tank Ember shows.

The diverging trends between shrinking domestic coal use and robust coal exports open the United States to charges of hypocrisy given the country’s ambitions to become a global leader in energy transition and pollution reduction efforts.


A key driver behind the push for overseas sales has been a steady decline in coal use for power generation at home. Between 2013 and 2023, U.S. coal-fired power generation dropped by 57.5% from 1,581 terawatt hours (TWh) to 672.5 TWh, Ember data shows.

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