A rise in natural gas production in the United States coupled with a decline in Chinese demand is in part the reason why coal is cheaper for European consumers. CNN reports U.S. coal exports to the European Union increased 29 percent year-on-year for 2012.
Andrew Horstead, a risk analyst at British energy consulting group Utilyx, tells CNN the figures don't suggest a move away from cleaner natural gas, however.
"The economics are telling us to burn coal rather than gas," he said.
CNN adds that many coal-fired power plants in Europe are racing to burn coal supplies before emissions regulations go into force at the end of 2015.
"We don't see this as a renaissance of coal," said Milton Catelin, director of the World Coal Association. "It's just economics."
The European Union by 2020 aims to cut carbon emissions 20 percent from 1990 levels as it moves to increase the use of renewables in its energy mix.