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Coal has dominated the world energy scenario since the Eighteenth century, up to 1970 and in 2009 it accounts for approximately 27% of the primary consumption of energy (Source: International Energy Agency (IEA) – Key World Energy Statistics 2011). In the years between 2003 and 2006, it is estimated that coal demand increased almost 67%; China accounted for 73% and if we also consider India, the percentage rises to 82%. China is the leading producer and consumer in the world: in 2010 coal consumption in China amounts to 1713 million toe per annum, with a production of  1800 million toe per annum (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy - June 2011). The greatest limit of coal is that it is the most polluting source of energy and it negatively affects the state of the climate. When compared to natural gas, production of one kilowatt-hour of electricity from coal generates  more than twice the amount of nitrogen oxide, eight times the amount of heavy metals, ten times the amount of fine dust, and it also produces a large amount of sulphur oxides. 40% of the world emissions of carbon dioxide per year, generated from the combustion of fossil sources is from coal: 67% is generated from its use in the  thermoelectric sector and 23% from coal  burnt in China and in the United States.

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