Asia could overcome Europe in renewable power generation with biomass

4 min read

By Javier Rico

According to the “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017” report, this year stands out for a 37 percent drop in biofuel investments to $2.2 billion on one hand, and on the other for biomass stability, standing at $6.8 billion, according to Energías Renovables website.

While another report, Irena’s “Renewable Energy Statistics Capacity 2017”, confirms a smaller gap between Asia and Europe, which in just one year (between 2015 and 2016) was reduced by nearly 4,000 MW. Out of the 8,623 MW installed in 2016, 6,000 were generated in Asia, while Europe added only 1,500 MW. For its part, India, with 3,580 MW, was the country with the most significant growth, going from 5,605 to 9,185.

The Asian country with the largest installed capacity is China (12,140 MW), ranking in the third spot globally only behind Brazil (14,179 MW, mostly associated with the sugarcane industry and the revaluation of its bagasse), and United States (12,548 MW). The latter added a mere three MW in 2016, and has been stuck since 2013.

Germany, United Kingdom and Sweden are at the lead in Europe

Although Europe ranks number one among the continents, Germany, the fourth country on the list, is far from the third spot with 9,336 MW, and with India on its heels. In that same continent, the halt in biomass production is evident in Spain, due to the elimination of premiums for new facilities, and has remained stuck at 1,108 MW for three years.

Other than the numbers in Germany, another highlight in Europe is the growth in United Kingdom’s installed capacity (from 4,700 to 5,000 MW) where, apart from new power stations such as the Tees, there’s also co-combustion with coal or conversion from coal to biomass. Finally, Sweden ranks third in Europe with 4,893 MW.

2,800 MW of renewably generated power outside the grid

Another interesting data in this year’s statistics report is that for the first time it contains renewable energy data outside the grid. This shows that “off-grid renewable energy capacity reached 2,800 MW by late 2016.”

“Roughly 40 per cent of off-grid electricity was provided by solar energy and 10 per cent from hydropower. The majority of the remainder came from bioenergy,” states the report, although without specifying percentages. “It is estimated that globally as many as 60 million households, or 300 million people, are served with and benefit from off-grid renewable electricity.”

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