The plot presented in this post, made with Gapminder (thanks to Hans Rosling), is a comparison of use of solid biomass for energy purposes (expressed as % of TPES*, on the y-axis) among different selected countries.
This comparison is made including a United Nations’ indicator, called Human Development Index, HDI (on the x-axis). The HDI is “a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators”, and is used to rank countries in terms of human development” (Wikipedia). Countries with a HDI > 0,85 are considered with a very high HDI, countries with a HDI < 0,50 are considered with a low HDI.
From the plotted data, we note that:
- Countries with a low HDI (e.g. <0,50) evidence a high use of solid biomass for energy purposes (> 30% of the TPES). For some African countries, most of the produced energy is coming from solid biofuels.
- Countries with a medium/high HDI, evidence a lower use of solid biomass for energy purposes (<25% of the TPES).
- Over time, the use of solid biofuels to produce energy is decreasing in countries with a low HDI in the time frame 2000-2010 (but there are some exceptions!). The use of solid biofuels to produce energy is increasing in countries with a very high HDI (HDI>0,75) in the time frame 2000-2010.
This trends might be explained looking at:
- The progressive reduction in the use of traditional biomass (non commercial by-products, animal dung burned for cooking and heating purposes, in developing countries). The World Health Organization estimates that 1,5 M premature deaths per year are directly attributable to indoor air pollution from the use of such traditional biomass and charcoal.
- The investments, e.g. in the EU countries, to increase the share of energy produced from “modern” solid biomass, as an increasing share in their TPES.
The trends of the points representing the countries, moving along the timeline, draw a “hockey stick” shape. Based on such representation, some interesting questions arise:
- How quickly traditional biomass can be substituted by other renewable energy sources (including modern biomass)?
- Is it possible to convert traditional biomass in modern bioenergy technologies (reducing e.g. indoor air pollution)?
- How to calculate the maximum possible contribution of energy from solid biomass in the TPES for each country? Can all countries with high values of HDI, follow the “hockey stick” trend?
What is your opinion? Comments are welcomed.
*Total primary energy supply (TPES) is the “total amount of primary energy that a country has at their disposal and it is made up of: indigenous production + imports – exports – international marine and aviation bunkers +/- stock changes.” (IEA, 2017).