Solar power outshines the rest to become fastest-growing fuel

Renewables accounted for almost two thirds of net new power capacity around the world last year, with solar PV capacity growing fastest, according to the Renewables 2017 report.

In news of interest to suppliers to the solar market, the study – produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) – found that new solar PV capacity grew by 50% in 2016, with China accounting for nearly half of global expansion. Solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal.

Around 165 gigawatts came online in 2016 thanks to renewables and the report predicts strong growth in coming years – by 2022, renewable electricity capacity should increase by 43%.

“New era in solar PV”

“We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build,” said Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director. “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

China, India & United States

Three countries will account for two thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022, said the report: China, India & the United States. Total solar PV capacity by then would exceed the combined total power capacities of India and Japan today.

The report detailed: “China remains the undisputed leader of renewable electricity capacity expansion over the forecast period with over 360 GW of capacity coming online, or 40% of the global total. 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. In fact, China already exceeded its 2020 solar PV target three years ahead of time and is set to achieve its onshore wind target in 2019. Still, the growing cost of renewable subsidies and grid integration issues remain two important challenges to further expansion.”

Record-low auction prices, which fell as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour, accompanied the deployment in solar PV and wind last year, with low prices for solar and wind in India, UAE, Mexico and Chile. Read more from the report at the IEA site.

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