Solar outpaced all other new forms of electric generation coming online across the world in 2016, a first for photovoltaics (PV). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) more than 74 gigawatts (GWs) of solar power came online in 2016, growing 50 percent over the previous year.
Moreover, driven by record low prices, it’s expected to continue growing, with the organization raising its estimates for newly installed renewable in 2017 by 12 percent and even more in the future. The cost of utility-scale solar and wind in auction prices fell as low 3 cents per kilowatt hour in certain parts of the world like Chile, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico—cheaper than coal or gas plants.
“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, the executive director of the IEA. “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.”
It’s a sunny outlook for solar power and renewable energy. For the first time solar power rose faster than any other fuel source, including the net growth in coal-fired power. China alone accounted for nearly half of the new solar power installed, IEA’s analysis and forecast found. In the past, however, Energy Watch Group has contested IEA’s figures and future analysis, saying they’re too low.
The analysis also found that overall renewable accounted for 165 GWs of renewable energy came online last year, up from 153 GWs installed in 2015 and almost two-thirds of the net new power capacity installed across the world. The report also anticipated that by 2022, renewable capacity should increase by 43 percent.
The report also found that the expansion of PV across the world will be led by three countries, the US, China and India. By 2022, they will account for two thirds of the global renewable energy expansion across the world, IEA stated. The report also found that by 2022, renewables will account for 30 percent of the world’s electric generation.
IEA’s report also highlighted expected renewable growth in the US, which is expected to remain the second-largest growth market for renewables despite policy uncertainties at the federal level. The main federal policy driving the growth, the investment tax credit, is strong for multiple years, IEA said, but it raised some concerns over federal tax reforms and international trade and energy policies.Tweet