Of all the sectors of global energy use, renewable energy currently contributes the least to the transport sector. Renewables account for only 4% of energy consumption in the transport sector as a whole in 2016.
Virtually all of renewables contribution to the transport sector today comes from conventional biofuels derived from grains, oil crops or other feed crops. Advanced biofuels – which are not dependent on volatile food-related feedstock prices like conventional biofuels – are just starting to be produced at commercial scale and have tremendous potential. Plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles are also beginning to be deployed in commercial quantities and the global stock reached surpassed 2 million vehicles in 2016.
As a result, despite the early stage of deployment for advanced biofuels and electric vehicles, IRENA’s study, Road Transport: The Cost of Renewable Solutions, finds an increasingly positive outlook for the use of renewable energy in road transport to 2020 and beyond. The analysis shows that plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles, advanced biofuels, and biomethane for transport could be competitive against fossil-fuel transport options by 2020 in an increasing number of market segments, as long as support policies are enhanced and expanded.