REN21 report shows global increase in ethanol production

By Erin Voegele | June 14, 2016

REN21 recently published its annual overview on the state of renewable energy, reporting 2015 was a record year for renewable energy installations. Renewable power and renewable heat both increased, along with renewables used in transportation.

According to the report, titled the “Renewables 2016 Global Status Report,” 173 countries had renewable energy targets in place as of early 2016. In addition, 146 countries had support policies in place. The report also stresses that renewables have been shown to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels in many markets. 

 “What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies,” said Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21. “For every dollar spent boosting renewables, nearly four dollars were spent to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.”

In addition to being a record year for new installations, the report indicates 2015 was also a record year for investment, reaching $286 billion worldwide in renewable power and fuels. China accounted for more than one-third of the global total. In addition, developing countries surpassed developed countries in total renewable energy investments for the first time.

According to the report, global biofuels production increased 3 percent last year, reaching 133 billion liters (35.13 billion gallons). While ethanol production was up, biodiesel production was down slightly.

Together, the U.S. and Brazil produce 72 percent of all biofuels, followed by Germany, Argentina, and Indonesia. In energy terms, approximately 67 percent of biofuels production was ethanol, with 33 percent biodiesel and the remaining fuel hydrogenated vegetable oil and other advanced biofuels.

Fuel ethanol production was up 4 percent last year, reaching 98.3 billion liters. The U.S. and Brazil accounted for 86 percent of global ethanol production in 2015. China, Canada and Thailand were the next largest producers.

In the U.S., ethanol production increased an estimated 3.8 percent, reaching 56.1 billion liters. Ethanol production in Brazil was up 10 percent, reaching a record 28.2 billion liters. Production in Canada was down 1 percent, at 1.7 billion liters. Production in China also dropped 14 percent, reaching 2.8 billion liters. Production in Thailand increased 10 percent, reaching 1.2 billion liters. In the European Union, production was down 7 percent, falling to 4.1 billion liters. Production in Africa increased from 100 million liters in 2014 to 130 million liters in 2015.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the REN21 website