Bioenergy from liquid biofuels and biogas will lead growth in renewable energy consumption to 2023, due to its rising use in the heating and transport sectors, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Overall, renewable energy will continue to grow to 2023, accounting for 40% of energy consumption growth as countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
While growth in solar and wind power is set to continue in the electricity sector, bioenergy will remain the largest source of renewable energy, the IEA said in an annual report on renewables.
“Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
“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,” he added.
So-called modern bioenergy refers to liquid biofuels produced from bagasse-the pulpy residue from sugar cane-and other plants, biogas and other technologies.
Traditional bioenergy refers to the burning of biomass such as wood, animal waste and traditional charcoal.
The share of renewable technologies meeting global energy demand is expected to increase by one-fifth to 12.4% in 2023.
China will lead global growth in renewable energy due to policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from all sectors and lessen harmful air pollution and will surpass the European Union as the largest consumer of renewable energy by 2023, the report said.
Of the world’s largest energy consumers, Brazil will have the highest share of renewables by far—almost 45% of total final energy consumption in 2023, driven by a significant contribution of bioenergy and hydropower.
Globally, solar photovoltaic capacity is forecast to expand by almost 600 gigawatts (GW) to 1 terrawatt by 2023—more than all other renewable energy technologies combined.
Wind energy will be the second-largest contributor to renewable capacity growth, growing by 60%, but hydropower will remain the largest renewable electricity source by 2023.