Biofuel and Biomass Renewable Growth Management

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Executive summary

The use of biomass and biofuel renewable energy has been growing globally, despite a number of serious challenges. These challenges included low oil and fossil fuel prices plus policy uncertainty in some key markets. Biomass consumptions for renewable power generation and biofuel consumptions in the transport sector have both been forecasted to increase significantly in the coming years. Looking ahead to 2020, biomass renewable power generation is likely to rise to nearly 200 billion kWh, which will be over three times the 60 billion kWh capacity in 2008. However, there are also considerable environmental and supply chain challenges. Details of new biomass and biofuel developments will be discussed more in this chapter together with international references.

Overviews of biomass and biofuel renewable growths

Biomass and biofuel renewable energy applications have both been growing fast in emerging economies and developed countries globally. Despite various serious challenges, biofuel and bioenergy productions have continued to increase in various countries, especially in emerging economies. The serious challenges have included strong competitions by low fossil fuel prices, especially the low oil and gas prices. In addition, there have been serious policy uncertainties in some key markets in different countries globally.

In recent years, bioenergy and biofuel productions have continued to grow in emerging economies and developed countries. Biomass consumptions for clean renewable power generation and biofuel production for the transport sector have both been forecasted to increase significantly in coming years. Looking ahead to 2020, biomass renewable power generation has been forecasted to rise to nearly 200 billion kWh. This will be over three times the biomass renewable capacity of 60 billion kWh in 2008. The majority of new biomass power, estimated to be over 165 billion kWh, will likely to come from wood and other biomass sources. At the same time, there are also considerable environmental and biomass supply chain challenges, especially on increased particulate emissions (REN, Renewables Global Status Report, 2018).

Bioenergy developments and deployment activities have continued spreading into new regions and countries. These are particularly noticeable in the emerging economies in India and Asia plus Africa. Bio-heat energy production has grown slowly whilst biopower production has increased more quickly. There has been rapid growth of biopower in the developed countries of the European Union (EU) and in the emerging economies of Asia. A good country example is that biopower generation has risen particularly sharply in the Republic of Korea.

Global biofuel and ethanol productions have been experiencing stable growths. There have been record production levels in the USA and Brazil, together with sharp increases in biofuel production in both China and India. There have also been new biofuel initiatives in Africa, notably in Nigeria and South Africa. Global production of biodiesel has recovered after recent falls. There have been particularly strong growths in both Indonesia and Argentina. The production of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) has also increased in recent years.

There has also been continual progress in the commercialisation and development of advanced biofuels in some key countries. There have been expansions in the capacity and production of biofuels by both thermal and biological routes. Good biofuel production examples included the announcement of new biofuel plants in both China and India. These have helped to broaden the geographical spread of biofuel facilities and applications globally, especially in the emerging economies.

The use of biogas and biomethane in the transport sector has also grown recently. It has been due largely to significant growths in the USA, which has been stimulated by their Renewable Fuel Standard RFS. New conversion processes for the production of advanced liquid biofuels have also been maturing rapidly (REN, 2018).

There arc many pathways by which biomass feedstocks can be converted into useful renewable energy. A broad range of wastes, residues and crops grown for energy purposes can be used directly as biofuels for heating and cooling or for electricity production. Alternatively, they can be converted into biogas or liquid biofuels for transport fuel applications or as replacements for fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Many bioenergy technologies have become well established and fully commercialised. New biofuel conversion processes have also been maturing rapidly (REN, 2018).

In the meantime, there have also been rising global and regional environmental concerns on biomass and biofuel developments. In particular, there are rising concerns on the environmental and sustainability aspects. The ongoing discussions about the sustainability of bioenergy, biomass and biofuel have led to regulatory and policy uncertainties in some key markets. These have resulted in a more difficult investment environment for biomass and biofuels in some markets. In other markets, bioenergy consumption and investment in new capacities have been supported by government policy and new energy policies (Sustainable Energy for All, 2015).

 
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