India is chasing down and may soon surpass China to become the world's most coal-hungry country. Supplies of natural gas are running short in Asia as well, representing a scarcity in alternatives to coal-fired power generation.
China could be overtaken by India in coal imported for power generation by 2014. China's coal use has fallen lately; the country burned less coal in 2012 than it did at any point since 2008, according to Energy Aspects Ltd. The use of coal in the U.S. is also falling as more plants retire.
India's coal use is up 10 percent from 2012 — its sharpest rise since the 1980s. India gets about 59 percent of its power from coal-fired power. State-owned Coal India provides about 80 percent of the country's coal.