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Bioenergy

Bioenergy accounts for roughly one-tenth of world total primary energy supply today.

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Key findings

Bioenergy use by sector and share of modern bioenergy in total final consumption in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030

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Demand for bioenergy production will increase, but must be achieved sustainably

Modern bioenergy is the largest source of renewable energy globally, accounting for 55% of renewable energy and over 6% of global energy supply. The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario sees a rapid increase in the use of bioenergy to displace fossil fuels by 2030. Use of modern bioenergy has increased on average by about 7% per year between 2010 and 2021, and is on an upward trend. More efforts are needed to accelerate modern bioenergy deployment to get on track with the Net Zero Scenario, which sees deployment increase by 10% per year between 2021 and 2030, while simultaneously ensuring that bioenergy production does not incur negative social and environmental consequences.

In accordance with these sustainability considerations, there is no expansion of cropland for bioenergy nor conversion of existing forested land into bioenergy crop production in the Net Zero Scenario.

Global bioenergy supply in the Net Zero Scenario

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Aligning with the Net Zero Scenario will require modern bioenergy use and phasing out traditional use of biomass

Total global bioenergy use in 2030 under the Net Zero Scenario is only about 20% higher than in 2021, although this by itself is quite misleading. Over 35% of the bioenergy used in 2021 was from biomass for traditional cooking methods – practices that are unsustainable, inefficient, polluting and linked to 5 million premature deaths in 2021 alone.

The use of this traditional biomass falls to zero by 2030 in the Net Zero Scenario in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy. Modern bioenergy usage, which excludes traditional uses of biomass, nearly doubles from about 42 EJ in 2021 to 80 EJ in 2030.

Growth in biofuel demand in advanced and emerging economies by fuel, 2022-2027

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Robust biofuel demand growth over the next five years will help meet climate and energy security goals

Total global biofuel demand expands by 20% over 2022-2027 in the main-case forecast. Growth in renewable diesel and biojet fuel consumption is almost entirely in advanced economies. Here, policies designed to reduce GHG emissions are driving demand because these fuels can be produced with low GHG emissions, blended at high levels and made from wastes and residues. In fact, nearly 70% of renewable diesel and biojet fuel came from wastes and residues in 2021.

The United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia and India make up 80% of global expansion in biofuel use, as all five countries have comprehensive policy packages that support growth. In Europe, falling transport fuel demand nearly stalls volume growth even though state-level policies are increasingly stringent. Globally, the biofuel share in transport fuel consumption climbs from 4.3% to 5.4% during 2022-2027.
Our work

The aim of the Bioenergy TCP is to increase knowledge and understanding of bioenergy systems in order to facilitate the commercialisation and market deployment of environmentally sound, socially acceptable, and cost-competitive, low-carbon bioenergy systems and technologies, and to advise policy and industrial decision makers accordingly.