Oct. 8 (UPI) -- China, which is fighting air pollution by seeking alternatives to coal consumption, will within five years become the world's biggest renewable energy user, according to a report by the IEA released Monday.
"China leads global growth in renewable energy as a result of policies to decarbonize all sectors and reduce harmful local air pollution, and becomes the largest consumer of renewable energy, surpassing the European Union, by 2023," according to the latest International Energy Agency forecast.
China will also lead solar photovoltaic expansion, and account for more than half of the worldwide expansion, according to the IEA report.
"China remains the absolute solar PV leader by far, holding almost 40 percent of global installed PV capacity in 2023," the report added. The United States and India will trail China.
China, which faced air pollution so severe that it caused hundreds of thousands of deaths annually, has since 2013 worked to reduce it mainly by decreasing coal consumption through closing coal-fired power stations and curbing its use for heat.
However, when it comes to consumption of renewables as a percentage of total energy, Brazil is the country with by far the highest share, the report added.
"Almost 45 percent of total final energy consumption in 2023" in Brazil will come from renewables, the EIA report added. The IEA report mentioned bioenergy and hydropower as the leading renewable sources in the South American country. Since the 1970s, Brazil has worked to use sugar-based ethanol as fuel. Most vehicles run on ethanol or on a gasoline-ethanol blend.
Bioenergy, which uses energy stored in biomass, will have the highest worldwide growth in renewable resources between 2018 and 2023, the report said. "Renewables will continue their expansion in the next five years, covering 40 percent of global energy consumption growth."
The use of renewables worldwide will expand faster in the electricity sector and slower in the transport and heat sectors "because of weaker policy support and additional barriers to deployment," the IEA report added.