December 2007  -  Announcement of a publication

A review of the current state of bioenergy development in G8 + 5 countries


This is a publication of the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP)

Bioenergy sits at the intersection of three of the world’s great challenges - energy security, climate change, and poverty reduction - and has received an enormous amount of attention in the past few years. Joint work on these issues is vital considering that together, the G8 +5 Countries account for about 55 percent of the world’s population, 70+ percent of global GDP, and about 72 percent of world energy-related and industry CO2 emissions (excluding deforestation).

Bioenergy statistics are inadequate and not up to date. They are essential to understand the dynamics of bioenergy systems; evaluating the role played by different types of biofuels in the energy sector and supply sources; assessing the share of biomass used (directly and indirectly) for energy purposes; assessing the role of biofuel in GHG inventories; and formulating sound policies.

According to the best data available, bioenergy provides about 10 percent of the world’s total primary energy supply (47.2 EJ of bioenergy out of a total of 479 EJ in 2005, i.e. 9.85 percent). Most of this is for use in the residential sector (for heating and cooking) and is produced locally. In 2005 bioenergy represented 78 percent of all renewable energy produced. A full 97 percent of biofuels are made of solid biomass, 71 percent of which used in the residential sector. Biomass is also used to generate gaseous and liquid fuels, and growth in demand for the latter has been significant over the last ten years. Biomass provides a relatively small amount of the total primary energy supply (TPES) of the G8 Countries (1-4 percent). By contrast, bioenergy is a significant part of the energy supply in the +5 Countries representing from 5-27 percent of TPES. China with its 9000 PJ/yr is the largest user of biomass as a source of energy, followed by India (6000 PJ/yr), USA 2300 PJ/yr, and Brazil (2000 PJ/yr), while bioenergy’s contribution in Canada, France and Germany is around 450 PJ/yr.

The bioenergy share in India, China and Mexico is decreasing, mostly as traditional biomass is substituted by kerosene and LPG. However the use of solid biomass for electricity production is important, especially from pulp and paper plants. Bioenergy’s share in total energy consumption is increasing in the G8 Countries especially Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

There are four key factors driving interest in bioenergy: rising prices for fossil fuels, in particular oil prices; energy security; climate change; and rural development. Bioenergy markets are largely policy dependent in most of the world, as the production of biofuels in most countries is not at this point competitive with fossil fuels. Nearly all countries reported that energy security and climate change are the most important drivers of their bioenergy development activities. Overall there are few differences between the policy objectives of G8 Countries and the +5 Countries. Rural development is more central to the +5 Countries’ focus on bioenergy development, and this is often aligned with a poverty alleviation agenda.

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© FAO, 2007