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WBA launches Global Bioenergy Statistics 2016

June 21, 2016 – The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) has published the third Global Bioenergy Statistics report.


June 21, 2016
By Brandi Cowen

The report shows bioenergy is growing at a steady pace. In 2013, global biomass supply increased to 57.7 EJ, accounting for 10 per cent of the global energy supply. In terms of final energy consumption, the bioenergy use increased by 1.23 EJ – a modest increase of 0.05 per cent over the past year. The share of bioenergy in final energy was 13.9 per cent.

The share of renewables was steady at 18.3 per cent and the slow pace of growth is unsettling. Renewables contribution in electricity was 22 per cent. The highest renewable share was in direct heat at 28 per cent while in derived heat, only seven per cent. In the transportation sector, renewables contributed only 2.5 per cent in 2013.

Bioenergy is the third largest renewable electricity generating source. In other sectors of direct heat, derived heat and the transport sector, bioenergy was the largest renewable energy source.

Biomass supply is classified into agriculture, forestry and waste sectors. Global agriculture area decreased by 0.53 per cent since 2000. Increasing yields is crucial for both food and fuel production. Increasing global yields for maize, rice and wheat reduced land demand by 570 million ha. If average yields of these crops in Africa was the same as the global average, the demand for land could be reduced by half.

Agriculture residues have the potential to generate 17 EJ to 128 EJ.

Forestry is the largest supplier of biomass. Forestry area globally has been reduced by 1.23 per cent since 2000. In the EU, 28 countries increased their forestry area by 3.62 per cent. Fuel wood and charcoal contributed 68 per cent and 10 per cent to the total biomass supply.

Forest residues have the potential to generate 4.6 EJ to 7.6 EJ.

Waste generated 1.3 EJ of energy in 2013, predominantly in Europe. However, there is a significant lack of updated data on global waste generation.

  • In 2013, 462 TWh of bioelectricity was generated – a six per cent increase over the previous year. Asia is the fastest growing region for bioelectricity generation. From 2000-2013, China and India increased their generation by 20 and 17 times, respectively.
  • In 2013, 0.9 EJ of derived heat was generated globally. Seventy-seven per cent of all generation was in Europe. Sweden is the largest producer of derived heat from biomass.
  • In 2013, 48.5 EJ of direct bioheat was generated. Almost half of it was generated in Asia.
  • In 2015, 133 billion litres of biofuels were produced. Sixty-two per cent of all biofuel produced was in the form of bioethanol, 24 per cent as biodiesel and the rest as advanced biofuels. Eighty-seven per cent of all bioethanol produced was in the Americas – US and Brazil. Europe produced 43 per cent of all biodiesel production.

Protein is an important by-product of biofuel production. In 2013, 71.1 million tonnes of protein were produced during biofuel production.

Some special bioenergy sectors were also considered. In 2013, 59 billion m3 of biogas was produced, with 45 per cent coming from 28 EU countries. Pellet production increased to 26.4 million tonnes in 2014.

Charcoal is an often underestimated sector. Global production in 2014 was 52 million tonnes – twice as much as pellets.

In total, 8.1 million jobs were generated in the renewable energy industry. Bioenergy employed 3.7 million people.

Bioenergy is growing at a steady pace. There is rapid growth in the pellets and biofuels sector. Charcoal production is highly underestimated and should be produced more sustainably in the supply chain. Sustainable forestry practices in countries like Sweden and Finland have to be replicated in other parts of the world. There is a lot of potential of using agricultural and forestry residues for energy generation. There is still a significant lack of updated and reliable data for bioenergy. Bioenergy will continue to be a major contributor to the global energy mix and part of the solution for a future sustainable society.

Download a copy of the report.