Bioenergy power generation

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

On track

In 2018, bioenergy electricity generation increased by over 8%, maintaining average growth rates since 2011 and exceeding the 6% annual rate needed through 2030 to reach the SDS level. As recent positive policy and market developments in emerging economies indicate an optimistic outlook for bioenergy, its tracking status was upgraded in 2018 from ‘more efforts needed’ to ‘on track’.

Heymi Bahar
Lead author
Contributors: Pharoah Le Feuvre

Bioenergy power generation

	Historical	Forecast	SDS
2000	132.1		
2001	132.7		
2002	146.0		
2003	157.0		
2004	172.1		
2005	192.2		
2006	206.1		
2007	225.5		
2008	244.2		
2009	266.0		
2010	310.4		
2011	328.2		
2012	356.4		
2013	389.2		
2014	423.8		
2015	451.3		
2016	498.5		
2017	531.4		
2018	592.2		
2019		637.4	
2020		676.5	
2021		708.3	
2022		737.3	
2023		764.1	
2025			921.8
2030			1168.2
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Back to Renewables sector | TCEP overview 🕐 Last updated Friday, May 24, 2019

Tracking progress

In 2018, bioenergy power generation increased an estimated 8%, maintaining average growth rates since 2011. In the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), electricity generation from bioenergy increases 6% annually through 2030 as it takes air pollutant constraints into account.

Bioenergy tracking status rose from ‘needs improvement’ to ‘on track’ this year. Several policy and market developments in China contributed significantly to this status change.

For instance, China introduced a new clean-heat initiative that is expected to increase deployment of biomass- and waste-fuelled co‑generation plants. The highest deployment is anticipated in areas with access to biomass resources and policies to phase out coal boilers to improve air quality.

Energy-from-waste (EfW) deployment is also growing strongly as increasing urbanisation and economic development leads to more municipal solid waste (MSW) production. EfW technology offers a solution superior to landfills for cities to manage MSW, and China has the highest installed EfW capacity globally.

In addition, China is promoting the use of agricultural residues for bioenergy (as an alternative to uncontrolled in-field burning that deteriorates air quality); both EfW and solid biomass-based electricity generation receive feed-in tariff support. Plus, it has announced a pilot for coal power stations to begin co-firing biomass.

In Brazil, the federal RenovaBio plan, due to come into force in 2020, will boost the production of transport biofuels and in turn will result in additional bagasse-based electricity generation from both existing facilities and new mills.

Mexico and Turkey also show signs of expanding bioenergy deployment, especially for EfW and biogas.

Auction design for bioenergy

Bioenergy generation costs need to be considered along with its dispatchability and potential to support wider policy objectives such as rural development, best-practice waste management and supply security.

How the auction framework accounts for flexible generation potential and socio-economic benefits will therefore be crucial in shaping bioenergy deployment.

Energy from waste (EfW)

Higher levels of waste collection and sorting are essential to provide a basis for EfW utilisation. In Europe, countries with policies that discourage sending waste to landfills, such as landfill bans or taxation, have had higher EfW development.

EfW should be employed only in accordance with the wider waste management hierarchy, which categorises waste management options based on which are best from an environmental perspective and advises that reuse and recycling of materials should be undertaken prior to energy recovery.


Robust sustainability frameworks are key to bioenergy growth. Only bioenergy that reduces lifecycle GHG emissions while avoiding unacceptable social, environmental and economic impacts can contribute to energy system decarbonisation. Robust sustainability governance and enforcement must therefore be a central pillar of any bioenergy support policy.

Additional resources