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

Bioenergy Jpg

Key findings

Global biofuel demand by region, 2019-2026


Biofuel demand forecast to increase 28% over the next 5 years

Following a historic decline in 2020 amid global transport disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, total biofuel demand is on course to surpass 2019 levels in 2021. In our main case, annual global demand for biofuels is set to grow by 28% by 2026, reaching 186 billion litres. The United States leads in volume increases, but much of this growth is a rebound from the drop caused by the pandemic. Asia accounts for almost 30% of new production over the forecast period, overtaking European biofuel production by 2026. This is thanks to strong domestic policies, growing liquid fuel demand and export-driven production. Recent Indian ethanol policies and blending targets for biodiesel in Indonesia and Malaysia are responsible for most of the growth in Asia. India is set to become the third largest market for ethanol demand worldwide by 2026.

Annual biofuel demand growth, 2010-2020 vs. Net Zero Scenario


Stronger policy support and innovation to reduce costs are required to get on track

Despite challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis and high feedstock costs, a number of new policies that could accelerate sustainable biofuel demand are being discussed in large biofuel markets. Between 2010 and 2019, global biofuel consumption expanded 5% on average per year. Although achieving the Net Zero Scenario’s 14% average annual growth between 2021 and 2030 will require considerably stronger policies, similar expansion has been achieved in some countries and regions in the past. In fact, Europe, North America and several countries in Asia are considering or implementing policies that could accelerate biofuel demand.

Liquid biofuel production, 2020, and in the Net Zero Scenario, 2030


Waste- and residue-derived fuels deserve more policy attention

Biofuels produced from wastes, residues and dedicated crops that do not compete with food crops (such as crops grown on marginal land) make up 45% of biofuels consumed in 2030 in the Net Zero Scenario, up from an estimated 7% in 2020. Today, used cooking oil and waste animal fats provide the majority of non-food-crop feedstocks for biofuel production. Given that these feedstocks are limited, however, new technologies will need to be commercialised to expand non-food-crop biofuel production. For instance, cellulosic ethanol and biomass-to-liquids technologies use non-food feedstocks to produce low-carbon biofuels for use in the transport sector. While the average production cost is still double to triple that of fossil fuel equivalents, it could decline by as much as 27% over the next decade.


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.