Global bioenergy statistics 2018

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The global energy system depends on fossil fuels. In 2016, Coal, Oil and Natural Gas constituted 81% of the total primary energy supply of the world. Renewables accounted for only 14% and have seen an increase of 1% share since 2000.

The Total Primary Energy Supply of energy sources is the highest in Asia due to the large energy supply and use in China, India and other rapidly developing emerging economies in the region. However, in terms of the share of renewables, African continent has the highest share in their energy supply. Almost 50% of the energy supply in Africa comes from renewables - predominantly from biomass-based sources. In comparison, 10.5% of the energy supply in Europe is renewables.

The key indicator for the progress of renewables globally is the share of renewable energy sources in the gross final energy consumption. In 2016, renewables accounted for 17.9% of the global energy consumption. Since 2000, renewable energy share has increased only by 0.3% even though almost 20 EJ of renewable energy consumption was added to the global energy mix.

Bioenergy is the largest renewable energy source globally. In 2016, Total Primary Energy Supply of biomass resources was 56.5 EJ - constituting 70% of the share among all renewable energy sources. Hydropower share was at 18% globally. In continents, the role of biomass is very prominent. In Africa, more than 90% of the total primary energy supply of renewable energy sources is from biomass. In every other continent, biomass is the largest renewable energy source in terms of supply and accounting from between 40% (Oceania) to almost 96% in Africa.

Electricity from hydropower is the largest renewable electricity source globally. In 2016, 6 119 TWh of electricity was produced globally from hydropower - constituting 68% of the overall renewable share. Biopower or electricity from biomass is the 3rd largest renewable electricity generation source. In 2016, 571 TWh of electricity was produced from biomass sources. The electricity sector has numerous renewable energy options for renewable electricity.

The derived heat sector (Heat produced in power plants) is limited in terms of its capacities to decarbonize from fossil fuels. In the limited options available, biomass is the most prominent choice. 1.05 EJ of bioheat was produced in 2016 followed by 0.04 EJ of geothermal heat and 0.01 EJ of solar thermal. In 2016, 96% of the derived renewable heat was from biomass and waste sources.

The other end use of heating sector is direct heat, i.e. direct consumption of energy sources in the end use sectors of agriculture, residential (also includes cooking), commercial etc. and excluding the transport sector. Renewables consumption in direct heating is dominated again by biomass as was the case with derived heating. The use of biomass for direct heating amounted to 42.4 EJ in 2016. To compare, the total energy supply of biomass in 2016 was 56 EJ.

The direct use of biomass for heating and cooking etc. is the largest part of the bioenergy end use. In effect, more than 80% of the biomass supply is used for direct heating and cooking - predominantly in Asia and African continents.

Electrification in the transport sector is making considerable progress. Apart from electrification using renewable electricity, biofuels are the only sustainable alternative to decarbonizing the transportation sector. In 2016, 3.43 EJ of biofuels was used in the transport sector accounting for 3% of the share in the total energy use in transport sector. The use of electricity in transport was 1%. During 2000 - 2016, the consumption of biofuels in transport increased from 1% to 3% while electricity use in transport has remained at 1%.

Biomass supply comes from a variety of feedstock – wood fuel, forestry residues, charcoal, pellets, agriculture crops and residues, municipal and industrial waste, biogas, biofuels etc. Broadly, the supply can be classified into three main sectors – forestry, agriculture and waste. In 2016, the total primary energy supply of biomass was 56.5 EJ. 87% of the supply was in the form of solid biomass - wood chips, wood pellets, fuel wood etc. 5% of the supply is from waste sources - both municipal and industrial waste. Biofuels and biogas shares are at 6% and 2%.

Electricity from biomass (Biopower) is the 3rd largest renewable electricity source globally after hydropower and wind. In 2016, 571 TWh of biopower was generated globally - 65% from solid biomass sources like wood chips and wood pellets, 19% from municipal and industrial waste followed by 15% from biogas - mainly in Europe.

Heat generation from biomass is obtained either via derived heat or direct heat. Derived heat is heat generated in heat only and combined heat and power plants. In 2016, 1.05 EJ of derived heat was generated from biomass-based sources - predominantly solid biomass.

Liquid Biofuels are the leading renewable solution for the transport sector. They have experienced sustained growth over the past 16 years. Since 2000 - 2017, biofuel production has increased 10 times from 16 billion litres to 143 billion litres. Bioethanol is the largest biofuel and hence, the largest renewable fuel in the global transport sector. Biodiesel is also quite significant in production while advanced/other biofuels are gaining prominence recently. USA and Brazil are the largest biofuel and bioethanol producers globally with a production share of 87% whereas biodiesel production share is evenly distributed between Asia, Americas and Europe.

Biogas is gaseous fuel produced from biomass using the process of anaerobic digestion of organic matter. The gas basically consists of methane and carbon dioxide. 61 billion m3 of biogas was produced globally in 2016. Europe produces more than half of the biogas produced globally while Asia share is 30%.

Pellets are a solid biomass fuel, mainly produced from wood residues but also from agricultural by-products such as straw. Pellets are used for residential heating in pellet stoves and pellet boilers, for the generation of heat, steam and electricity in the service industry, manufacturing and power generation. 31.2 million tonnes of pellets were produced globally in 2017. Europe is the world leader in pellet production at 57% followed mainly by Americas (e.g. USA) at 31%.

Charcoal is produced via the partial burning of biomass. The residue consists mainly of carbon and other residues. Charcoal sector is a highly underestimated sector due to its largely informal trade of the product. Unlike pellets and liquid biofuels, charcoal is produced and consumed locally. Moreover, the process of conversion is highly inefficient process. In 2017, 44 million tonnes of charcoal were produced - mainly in Africa.

Renewable energy creates jobs. In 2017, 10.4 million people were employed in the renewable energy industry globally. Vast majority of them are in the solar energy industry and bioenergy industry. Bioenergy is the 2nd largest job creator among renewables with more than 3.07 million people working in the sector. The largest job creator in the bioenergy sector is the sugarcane industry in Brazil for production of bioethanol and biopower which employs close to 1 million people.



World Bioenergy Association (WBA) 

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