IRENA report features bioenergy supply, demand projections

By Erin Voegele | September 19, 2014

The International Renewable Energy Agency has published a new report predicting a major role for modern, sustainable biomass technologies in the world’s energy mix. The working paper, titled “Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand Projections for the Year 2030,” addresses the expected growth of biomass resources in the power, thermal and liquid fuel sectors.

Overall, IRENA estimates biomass resources could account for 20 percent of the world’s primary energy supply by 2030 and 60 percent of the final renewable energy use. The agency also predicts that the share of biomass consumption will increase substantially in power and transportation applications. Power and district heating use is forecasted at 36 exajoules (EJ), with transport at 31 EJ, and heat at 41 EJ, with only 6 EJ of that from traditional use globally.

The working paper predicts that global biomass demand could double to as much as 108 EJ by 2030 if all its potential beyond the business-as-usual scenario is implemented. Nearly 33 percent of that total would be consumed in the power and district heating applications, with about 30 percent used in biofuels production. The remaining third would be split between heating applications in the manufacturing and building sectors.

By 2030, the U.S., China, India, Brazil and Indonesia are expected to account for a combined 56 percent of total biomass demand. The largest supply potential, however, is in Asia and Europe. Biomass trade is also expected to increase, with IRENA projecting that trade could account for between 20 percent and 40 percent of total global demand by 2030. With regard to domestic biomass supply costs, the report indicates costs could range from $3 per gigajoule (GJ) for agricultural residues up to $17 per GJ for energy crops.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the IRENA website here.