IEA expects global biofuels production to rebound in 2021

By Erin Voegele | November 16, 2020

The global biofuels industry has been strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency in early November, with production down approximately 11.6 percent when compared to 2019.

The IEA predicts global transport biofuel production will be at 144 billion liters (38.04 billion gallons) in 2020, down 11.6 percent from the record set last year and the first reduction in annual production in two decades. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IEA predicted a 3 percent growth in biofuel production for 2020.

Global ethanol production is expected to be at 98 billion liters this year, down 14.5 percent from 115 billion liters in 2019. About 80 percent of that reduction is expected to occur in Brazil and the U.S., according to the IEA. Global biodiesel production is expected to reach 46 billion liters this year, down 5 percent from 2019. Most of that reduction is expected in European markets.

If demand for transportation fuel rebounds to near pre-pandemic levels and policy support in key markets continues to expand, the IEA predicts that global production of transportation biofuels could rebound to the 2019 level of production in 2021, at approximately 162 billion liters. Production is expected to grow by an additional 4 percent in 2022 to 169 billion liters. The IEA said that the majority of that growth is expected to occur in Asian and South American countries.

During the 2023 to 2025 time period, the IEA said average global output of biofuels is expected to be at 182 billion liters. Ethanol is expected to account for 109 billion liters of that volume, with Brazil, China and India expected to be key growth markets. Biodiesel and renewable diesel production is expected to reach 63 billion liters annually over the 2023 to 2025 time period, up 30 percent from 2019. According to the IEA, expanding renewable diesel production in the U.S. and Singapore is expected to account for more than half of that increase.

A full copy of the IEA’s Renewables 2020 report can be downloaded form the agency’s website.