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Bioenergy continues as the largest renewable energy source

In 2014, the global supply of biomass increased 2.6 percent over the previous year to reach 59.2 EJ (Exa Joules). Overall, this represented 10.3 percent of the global energy supply 2014 according to a new statistics report released by the World Bioenergy Association (WBA).

Taking Q & A's at the press release of WBA Global Bioenergy Statistics 2017, Remigijus Lapinskas WBA President (left) and Bharadwaj V Kummamuru, Lead Author of the report.

Taking Q & A’s at the press briefing of WBA Global Bioenergy Statistics 2017, Remigijus Lapinskas WBA President (left) and Bharadwaj V Kummamuru, Lead Author of the report.

Published by the World Bioenergy Association (WBA), a global advocacy organisation dedicated to supporting and representing the wide range of actors in the bioenergy sector, the report “WBA Global Bioenergy Statistics 2017” is the 4th in a series of statistical reports focussing the development of bioenergy on a global level.

It was released during the 25th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE) currently underway in Stockholm, Sweden with a briefing by Bharadwaj V Kummamuru, Project Officer at WBA and Lead Author of the report.

Bioenergy the largest renewable

According to the report, the consumption of renewable energy sources increased to 66.9 EJ – accounting for 18.6 percent of the global energy mix 2014.

This shows a modest increase of 0.2 percent over the previous year. Bioenergy is the largest renewable energy source and has an overall consumption of 50.5 EJ – 14 percent of the global energy mix, said Kummamuru.

The global renewable electricity generation increased to 5 469 TWh in 2014 accounting for 23 percent of the overall electricity sector. Here bioenergy is the third-largest renewable energy source with 493 TWh. Furthermore, solar and wind are the fastest growing technologies with growth rates of 45.1 percent and 25.1 percent respectively.

In the heat sector, WBA distinguishes between “derived heat” and “direct heat” with the former defined as “heat produced in combined heat power (CHP) and heat only plants” and distributed for instance via district heating networks to an end sector whereas the latter is “heat directly consumed in end sectors”. According to the report, the share of renewables is 7.1 percent in derived heat and 27.7 percent in direct heat. In both subsectors, the biomass contribution is in excess of 95 percent. The contribution of renewables – solar thermal and geothermal – is minimal.

In transportation, the progress is lacking. Only 2.8 percent of the global transport sector is driven by liquid biofuels. Notable is that biofuels production is growing at a rate faster than the rate of electrification of transport, he said.

Forests key to biomass supply

Forestry continues to be a key part of biomass supply accounting for 87 percent of the total biomass supply providing fuelwood, wood industry residues, recovered wood and feedstock for charcoal production. Wood pellet production is increasing rapidly with a 2014 production volume of 28 million tonnes, up 1.6 million tonnes from the previous year whereas charcoal production retained its production volumes of 52 million tonnes.

The agricultural sector contributes 10 percent via the use of animal byproducts, agricultural residues and energy crops. Biogas production reached 58.7 billion Nm3 with an average growth rate of 11.2 percent. Almost half of the biogas production occurs in Europe.

One of the ways to increase supply from these sectors is to use the residues. A low theoretical estimate shows a potential of at least 20.4 EJ, remarked Kummamuru.

According to Kummamuru, official figures show that liquid biofuels production has reached 126 billion litres globally with 95.1 billion litres produced in the Americas – USA and Brazil. The simultaneous production of 75.3 million tonnes of protein is an added benefit of the biofuels industry.

Finally, waste-to-energy (WtE) conversion is increasing at an annual rate of 4 percent. Here Europe leads the way with 55 percent of global WtE installations found in the region.

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