Energy Institute

Where does our coal come from?

Ireland imports coal mainly from three countries – Colombia, Poland and Britain.

In 2014, the total amount of coal used here was 1.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).  Approximately 78% of this came from Colombia (Fig. 11); about 8% was exported from Poland; and imports from Britain accounted for the remaining 3%.

Most of the Colombian coal (74%, or 962,000 tonnes) was used for electricity generation in Moneypoint. The remainder was utilised in residential heating, industry, the services sector and in combined heat and power (CHP) units in industry (Fig. 12).

In that same year, we imported 104,000 tonnes of coal from Poland for home heating and 39,000 tonnes from Britain, primarily smokeless coal 1.

Figure 11. Coal imports in 2014 by country of origin

SEAI (2016) Energy Security in Ireland. Available Online

  • Columbia
  • Poland
  • UK
  • Germany
  • Other

Figure 12. Coal use in Ireland from 1990 to 2014

SEAI (2016) Energy Data Portal. Available Online

  • Public thermal power plant
  • Residential
  • Other

Coal use met about 10% of Ireland’s primary energy requirements over the last decade. To date, it has been impossible to ignore the very real economic and security of supply benefits related to its continued use. But equally the global and local negative environmental impacts associated with its use cannot be underestimated.

However, a decline in the amount of coal used as well as policy changes banning smoky coal and reducing industrial emissions through licensing have contributed to lower emission and pollution levels from this fuel 2. Bans on the selling and use of smoky coals in certain areas are to be extended in 2016 to bring cleaner air and improve efficiency 3.