Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewableenergy field and it would have the biggest growth in renewable resources between 2018 and 2023, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest report released on Monday.
About 40% of the global energy consumption growth in the next five years will be met by renewables and it will account for almost one-third of the global electricity generation by 2023, the market forecast said. India, after China and the US, is the third largest growth market for solar PV capacity addition.
“While the growth in solar PV and wind is set to continue in the electricity sector, bioenergy remains the largest source of renewable energy because of its widespread use in heat and transport, sectors in which other renewables currently play a much smaller role, the report said. The report blamed weaker policy support and additional barriers to deployment for the slow expansion of renewables in the transport and heat sectors.
Modern bioenergy’s “share in the world’s total renewables consumption is about 50% today, in other words as much as hydro, wind, solar and all other renewables combined,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth. But right policies and rigorous sustainability regulations will be essential to meet its full potential,” he said.
The focus on bioenergy is part of the IEA’s analysis of “blind spots” of the energy system – issues that are critical to the evolution of the energy sector but that receive less attention than they deserve – such as the impact of air conditioners on electricity demand, or the growing impact of petrochemicals on global oil demand.
Untapped potential of bioenergy in cement, sugar and ethanol industries is significant. Bioenergy growth in the industry, transport and electricity sectors combined could be as considerable as that of other renewables in the electricity sector. A significant proportion of this potential relies on wastes and residues that offer low lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate concerns over land-use change. In addition, using these resources can improve waste management and air quality.
China leads global growth in renewable energy. It will become the largest consumer of renewable energy, surpassing the European Union by 2023. Of the world’s largest energy consumers, Brazil will have the highest share of renewables by far – almost 45% of total final energy consumption in 2023, driven by significant contribution of bioenergy and hydropower, the report said.
Meanwhile, solar PV dominates renewable electricity capacity expansion. Renewable capacity global additions of 178 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 broke another record, accounting for more than two-thirds of global net electricity capacity growth for the first time. Solar PV capacity expanded the most (97 GW), over half of which was in China.
In a related report, Bloomberg’s Clean Energy Investment Trends says Indian investment in renewables is likely to increase in the years ahead as investors try to meet the government’s ambitious target of 100GW of solar power by 2022.