FRANKFURT, July 11 German hard coal consumption for power generation was down by 11 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014 as the use of coal in electricity production gave way to higher renewable power production, coal importers lobby VDKI said on Friday.
Healthy steel industry demand, however, helped to boost overall imports.
"The increasing feed-in of power from renewable energy, namely from photovoltaics, could have a further dampening effect on coal demand especially in the summer months," VDKI said in a statement.
Production of power from hard coal-fired generation plants was down 17 percent in January-March at 30 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with a year earlier, it said.
Input of hard coal into power generation in the quarter fell to 14.7 million tonnes of hard coal equivalent compared with 16.5 million a year earlier, VDKI said, citing official data.
Coal burn and imports are often converted into hard coal equivalent depending on the coal's calorific value, to achieve price comparability.
Many coal-to-power plants cannot run profitably because they have to reduce run-time in favour of green energy, which under Germany's legal provisions for the sector is given priority access to power grids reaching consumers.
Yet despite the weaker trend in power, overall imports of steam coal and coke rose by 3 percent year-on-year to nearly 14 million tonnes, VDKI said. The increase resulted from higher demand from the steel industry, another key coal consumer.
A breakdown of coal origins showed that Russia was the biggest supplier with 23 percent of the total, the importers group said. Number two was the United States, narrowly behind with a rounded share of 23 percent, then Colombia with 14 percent and South Africa with 9 percent. (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mark Potter)