‘New era’ for solar power as capacity grows faster than any other energy source

24th October 2017


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Author

Lyn Lind

Solar PV capacity increased faster than any other fuel source last year for the first time ever, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It shows that solar additions grew by 50% in 2016, with China responsible for almost half the global expansion as it becomes increasingly concerned about its air pollution problem.

Renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity worldwide last year, according to the research, and is expected to increase 43% by 2022.

“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” IEA executive director, Fatih Birol, said. “We expect solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

By that time, it is predicted that China, India and the US will account for 66% of the global renewable energy expansion, which will grow twice as fast as gas and coal combined.

In addition, renewable electricity is expected to increase by more than a third to over 8,000 terawatt hours, accounting for 30% of worldwide power generation – up from 24% in 2016.

China will remain the undisputed leader of renewable electricity capacity expansion up to 2022, and is already three years ahead of its solar capacity targets by three years, according to the report.

However, 70% of Denmark’s electricity generation is predicted to come from variable renewables by that time – more than in any other country – while Ireland, Germany and the UK’s share of wind and solar should exceed 25%.

Although coal is expected to remain the largest source of electricity generation during that time, renewables could close the generation gap by approximately half in just five years.

The report says that two of the biggest barriers to further renewable energy expansion facing governments are the growing costs of renewable subsidies, as well as grid integration issues.

Under an accelerated case – where government policy lifts barriers to growth – IEA analysis finds that renewable capacity growth could be boosted by another 30%, totalling an extra 1,150 GW by 2022.

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