IEA hails new era in solar PV

The surge in solar power has come as a result of policies supporting low-carbon energy and cost reductions for solar PV and wind.

"China's renewables growth is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and capacity targets that were outlined in the country's 13th five-year plan to 2020", the agency said in the report.

Net additions to renewable energy capacity in 2016, which include solar, wind, hydropower, bioenergy, wave and tidal, grew by 165 gigawatts (GW), six per cent more than in 2015. For the very first time, solar PV additions grew faster than any other resource, surpassing coal growth. That production will be equal to about half the globe's coal power capacity, in a fraction of the time it took to build all that coal power.

Renewable electricity generation is expected to expand by more than one-third by 2022, to more than 8 PWh - equivalent to.

China, India and the United States are set to make up two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022. Upward trends in China and India mostly drove the increase.

China represents half of global solar PV demand, while Chinese companies account for around 60% of total annual solar cell manufacturing capacity globally.

And despite policy uncertainties at the federal level, the United States remained the second-largest growth market for renewables, the IEA said.

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"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV".

China, "the undisputed renewable growth leader", will account for 40% of global renewables growth over the period as it is expected to add more than 360 GW.

Prices for wind and solar power fell past year to record lows in countries including India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Chile, making the technologies increasingly comparable with or cheaper than energy from new gas or coal power stations.

The influential Paris-based agency said its recent outlook for Canadian renewables was "less optimistic" than its 2016 projection due to "recent changes in auctions schemes in Ontario and Quebec".

The stunning growth trajectories reflected in the IEA report show how quickly the transition to renewables can be underway when aggressive policies cut through the barriers to growth.

The IEA expects India to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity by 2022.

Although coal will still be the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables is on track to close the generation gap with coal by half in just five years.


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