The Coal Trader

German 2023 coal imports plunge 40% to record-low ahead of 2024 closures

German imports of steam coal for power generation plunged 40% year-on-year in 2023 to 18.6 million mt, the lowest in recent times, Germany’s coal importers association VdKI said Jan. 17. Demand for thermal coal for power generation fell 30%, indicating higher coal stocks amid the shift away from Russian coal.

The US, Australia, Colombia and South Africa accounted for over 80% of German coal imports in 2023.

“Security of supply in the electricity sector should be our top priority,” said VdKI managing director Alexander Bethe noting that hard coal is set to play an essential role.

VdKI is calling for an extension of Germany’s power plant replacement law (EKBG) beyond this quarter with some 7 GW of reserve units that returned to the market during the 2022 crisis set to close or return to the reserves.

Supply of imported coal was “rock solid and stable” via Belgian/Dutch ports (ARA) and on the German coast at all times, VdKI said.

However, skilled labor, special parts and logistics could pose challenges without long-term planning, it added.

Coal demand from the steel sector declined only 2% in 2023, while coking coal imports were actually up on year, slightly lifting total 2023 coal imports above the 2020 low, according to VdKI.

Platts, a unit of S&P Global Commodity Insights, last assessed CIF ARA coal for 2025 delivery at $102.50/mt on Jan. 16 after the Cal 2024 ended the year just below $100/mt.