Brazil will surpass the United States as the world’s top market for biopower, research firm GlobalData reported. The U.S. remains the world’s global biopower leader for now, but Brazil is expected to increase its countrywide biopower installed capacity from 11.51 gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to an estimated 17.1 GW by 2018, to become the world’s premier market.
Biopower, also known as biomass power or bioenergy, is the use of any organic material to generate electricity. The U.S. has long been the global leader, but the report suggests outdated infrastructure and a bloated existing capacity that has saturated the market will lead to Americans being overtaken in four years’ time.
“A major share of the U.S. biopower capacity was installed in the 1980s and 1990s, meaning the country already had 12.82 GW by 2006 while Brazil only had 3.59 GW by that time,” said Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s alternative energy analyst.
Government mandates from Brazil’s governing party will also help push the South American developing nation ahead of the U.S. “The nascent Brazilian market is being driven by the government,” Nagatham said, “which has made it necessary for local utility service providers to obtain at least 2 GW of installed biomass capacity through auctions annually, for 10 years from 2007.”
Nagatham posited although there is a possibility of feedstock supply interruptions from increased deforestation in certain parts of Brazil, the rise in sugarcane plantations and production is expected to compensate for that.
Biomass provides 10.2 percent of global primary energy consumption, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. According to its most recent survey in 2011, biopower provided 5.7 percent of total U.S. renewable electricity, which is greater than the contribution of solar power but still less than wind or hydropower.
Emerging nations are adding renewable energy projects at nearly twice the rate of developed countries. A survey of 55 countries, including China, Brazil and South Africa, found combined renewables projects grew by 143 percent from 2008 to 2013, for a total of 142,000 megawatts. Wealthier nations, by comparison, saw renewables jump by 84 percent to 213,000 megawatts,
GlobalData added it estimates Brazil will up its installed capacity to 25.22 GW by 2025.