bioenergy
Image source: IEA

According to the International Energy Agency’s latest market forecast, modern bioenergy is set to have the biggest growth in renewable resources between 2018 and 2023.

“Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field. Its 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 Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

IEA’s Renewables 2018 market analysis and forecast report states that renewables will continue their expansion in the next five years, covering 40% of global energy consumption growth.

Their use continues to increase most rapidly in the electricity sector and will account for almost a third of the total world electricity generation in 2023. Read more: Bio-energy has a place in the energy mix

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.

Due to weaker policy support and additional barriers to deployment, renewables use expands far more slowly in the transport and heat sectors.

“We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field and has huge prospects for further growth. But the right policies and rigorous sustainability regulations will be essential to meet its full potential,” noted Dr Birol.

Focus on bioenergy

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.

Assuming strong sustainability measures are in force, the report identifies additional untapped potential for bioenergy to “green” and diversify energy usage in the industry and transport sectors.