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2019 December 03

Bioenergy continues to play a prominent role in global energy mix

World Bioenergy Association (WBA) is pleased to announce the publication of the Global Bioenergy Statistics 2019 report. The report is the 5th in the series of reports focussing on bioenergy developments from around the world.

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Fossil fuels dominate our energy mix and the dependence continued in recent years. During 2016 – 2017, the primary energy supply of fossil fuels has increased more than the supply of renewable energy sources. The 1.5% increase in total primary energy supply during 2016 – 17 has been matched by coal, oil and natural gas while renewables are lagging behind (0.7%). This trend appears to continue to 2018 and 2019 as well.

In 2017, the gross final energy consumption was 370 EJ – an increase of 2% over the past year. 40% of the energy consumed globally comes in the form of oil and oil products while coal and gas have an equal share of 20% each. Combined, fossil fuels accounted for 80% of the energy consumption globally in 2017. The share of renewable energy in the gross final energy consumption globally was 17.7% in 2017 – a drop of 0.2% over the previous year.

Among renewable energy sources, bioenergy (energy from bio-based sources) is the largest. In 2017, bioenergy accounted for 70% of the renewable energy consumption. The contribution of bioenergy share has been decreasing by a few percentage points (approx. 0.5% - 1%) annually partly due to decreasing use of traditional biomass sources.

Renewable energy technologies have made considerable progress in decarbonizing the electricity sector. In 2017, renewable electricity covered about 25% of the electricity generated globally. In 2017, electricity from biomass-based sources was the 3rd largest renewable electricity source after hydropower and wind. 596 TWh of biopower was generated.

Almost half of all energy consumption is in the form of heat – space heating for residential and commercial establishments and heating demand for industrial processes. One of the most widely used renewable energy source for derived heating is biomass which has a 96% share in the renewable heat market globally.

In the transport sector, biomass-based fuels (bioethanol, biodiesel etc.) are one of the best options for replacing fossil oil. The share of biofuels in the transport sector in 2017 was about 3% with a total contribution of 3.5 EJ.

Biomass dominates the end use sector of direct heating. In 2017, 40 EJ of biomass was consumed in end use sectors of residential, commercial, agriculture etc. for heating and cooking purposes which accounts for about 95% of renewable energy use in these sectors.

In 2017, 55.6 EJ of biomass was utilized for energy purposes – 86% of the use was in the form of primary solid biofuels including wood chips, wood pellets, fuelwood for cooking and heating etc. 7% of the biomass was used as liquid biofuels. Biogas, municipal waste, industrial waste had almost equal share at 2 – 3%.

One of the most promising sectors for growth in bioenergy production is in the form of residues from agriculture sector. Currently, the sector contributes less than 3% to the total bio- energy production. Data shows that utilizing the residues from all major crops for energy can generate approx. 4.3 billion tonnes (low estimate) to 9.4 billion tonnes (high estimate) annually around the world. Utilizing standard energy conversion factors, the theoretical energy potential from residues can be in the range of 17.8 EJ to 82.3 EJ. The major contribution would be from cereals – mainly maize, rice and wheat. Energy generation from agricultural residues could meet about 3 – 14% of the total energy supply globally.

The forestry sector is the largest contributor to the bioenergy mix globally. Forestry products including charcoal, fuelwood, pellets and wood chips account for more than 85% of all the biomass used for energy purposes. One of the primary products from forests that are used for bioenergy production is woodfuel. Most of the woodfuel is used for traditional cooking and heating in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Globally, 1.9 billion m3 of woodfuel was used for energy purposes.

The third and final category for bioenergy supply is municipal and industrial waste utilized for energy predominantly in urban areas. In 2017, domestic supply of waste to bioenergy was 2.51 EJ – 58% was in the form of municipal waste while the remaining was industrial waste to energy.

Special sectors deal with data on biogas, pellets and charcoal. In 2018, 35.4 million tonnes of wood pellets were produced – 55% of the production occurred in Europe while Americas (mainly USA) accounted for 31%. In 2017, 1.33 EJ of biogas was produced globally while Europe accounted for more than half of the annual production. With regard to charcoal, 51.6 million tonnes of charcoal were produced globally with Africa as the main producer and consumer of charcoal accounting for 65% of the production and using predominantly for cooking.

Renewable energy technologies create jobs. Globally, 11 million people were employed in the renewable energy industry by the end of 2018. Bioenergy is the 2nd largest employer globally with approx. 3.2 million people working in the bioenergy supply chain.

Download the report here: Link