The world will install more than a trillion watts of renewable power over the next five years and modern bioenergy leads the growth of all renewables, according to The International Energy Agency’s latest annual report on the forecast for renewable energy.
As clean energy continues to expand, the report shares China will be responsible for 41 percent of global renewable growth. By adding 438 gigawatts of clean energy as a result of policies to decarbonise all sectors and reduce harmful local air pollution, China could become the largest consumer of green energy in the world, overtaking the European Union by 2023, the IEA said.
Brazil will lead shortly behind China in renewable energy growth. Of the world’s largest energy consumers, Brazil employs the highest share of renewables by far – almost 45 percent of total final energy consumption in 2023.
While the growth in solar PV and wind is set to continue in the electricity sector, bioenergy remains the largest source of renewable energy because of its widespread use in heat and transport, sectors in which other renewables currently play a much smaller role. The United States remains the second-largest growth market for solar PV, followed by India, whose capacity quadruples .
“Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field,” said Dr., Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.
Bioenergy is renewable energy created from natural, biological sources. These sources can be any form of organic matter that stores sunlight as chemical energy. Most bioenergy comes from forests, agricultural farms, and waste like plants, animals, and their byproducts.
Modern technology even makes landfills or waste zones potential bioenergy resources. It can be used to be a sustainable power source, providing heat, gas, and fuel.
In the US, the DOE is currently researching algae as a great source of bioenergy and biofuel. Oil extracted from algae is processed and converted to fuels that we could use to operate vehicles. Algae takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, which is good for the environment and can eventually reduce our reliance on non-renewable oil sources.
“Its share in the world’s total renewables consumption is about 50 percent today, in other words as much as hydro, wind, solar and all other renewables combined. We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth. But the right policies and rigorous sustainability regulations will be essential to meet its full potential," explained Dr. Birol.
The report also shares that even with renewable energy technologies becoming increasingly competitive, appropriate policies and market design are critical. Under an accelerated case, which assumes greater supportive government measures, the expansion of renewables in electricity and in transport could be 25 percent higher.
Many state and local governments in the U.S. and across the world have taken measures to lower their carbon emissions and focus on making their communities more sustainable places to live. California is aiming for 100 percent clean energy by 2045 with a landmark bill that passed last month, and mayors in NYC and London recently urged all cities around the world to divest from fossil fuels. As more government leaders take steps towards sustainability, the IEA's reported forecast will prove to be true.