IRENA Projects Future Bioenergy Demand
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A working paper published in the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) ‘REmap 2030' series suggests that, over the next decade and a half, global biomass use could double from current levels, and account for 20% of total primary energy supply (TPES) and 60% of final renewable energy use, if all technology options it examines are deployed.

IRENASeptember 2014: A working paper published in the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) ‘REmap 2030′ series suggests that, over the next decade and a half, global biomass use could double from current levels and account for 20% of total primary energy supply (TPES) and 60% of final renewable energy use, if all technology options it examines are deployed.

Titled ‘Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand Projections: A Working Paper for REmap 2030,’ the paper examines how bioenergy could be rapidly and sustainably scaled up in different regions of the world, with different technologies.

The paper presents an assessment of the bioenergy market at present and in the short term, and calculates estimates through 2030 for bioenergy demand per sector and country, and supply potential and costs. It also discusses the sustainability of biomass from social, economic and environmental perspectives, including biofuels’ carbon balance and land use issues. The paper further examines strategies and technologies for enabling sustainable growth of bioenergy both on the demand and supply side, and through standards and certification. It concludes with an examination of policy support needs and proposes a number of next steps.

One of the key findings of the analysis is that “bioenergy has an auspicious future,” with potential in all sectors. International trade is also expected to play an important role in meeting the increasing demand, accounting for 20-40% of total global demand by 2030.

On the supply side, the analysis estimates global biomass potential to range from 97-147 exajoules (EJ) per year in 2030. In terms of distribution of biomass resource types, the study estimates approximately 40% of total supply potential to originate from agricultural residues and waste, with the remaining potential distributed relatively evenly between energy crops and forest products.

In geographic terms, Asia and Europe have the largest supply potential, estimated at 43-77 EJ per year, while North and South America account for 45-55 EJ per year. Asia has the greatest potential for biomass from residues and wastes, 15-32 EJ per year, while South America has high potential for energy crops, approximately 16 EJ per year.

The study projects that the use of traditional methods of space heating and cooking, such as burning firewood, which currently account for 35 EJ, will give way to modern biomass consumption. By 2030, the paper projects power and district heating to use 36 EJ, transport 31 EJ, and heat for industry and buildings up to 41 EJ, with only 6 EJ in this latter category coming from less sustainable traditional uses.

The study is part of IRENA’s REmap 2030 initiative, launched on 6 June 2014, at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4ALL) in New York, US. As part of the initiative, IRENA works together with national REmap experts in 26 countries to translate existing plans and renewable energy deployment options into a common framework. [IRENA Publication Website] [Publication: Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand Projections: A Working Paper for REmap 2030] [IISD RS Story on IRENA REmap 2030 Launch] [IISD RS Story on IRENA REmap 2030]


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