Solar power a clear leader, IEA report finds

Ebony Scott
October 5, 2017

"The message is very clear: Competition is driving cost down at a pace which is much faster than it was in the past", said Dr. Paolo Frankl, head of IEA's renewable energy division, on a call with reporters.

"We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022", it noted.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV", Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris.

Hydropower provides the most renewable energy, but the growth is in solar. Solar and wind power in India combine for about 90 percent of new capacity growth.

A report released by International Energy Agency (IEA) says India, China and the USA will account for two thirds of global renewable expansion to 2022.

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The International Energy Agency has highlighted the claimed 50% growth in solar PV installations in 2016, which reached over 74GW, is part of a new trend that showed renewable energy sources with nearly two-thirds of net new power capacity that approached 165GW coming online.

"Still, the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, worldwide trade and energy policies could alter the economic attractiveness of renewables and hamper their growth over our forecast period", the IEA's report read. The figure is set to increase by 43 percent over the next five years, said the report.

In 2016, it expanded renewable capacity by 24 GW, which was 44 per cent higher than in 2015 and more than the European Union for the first time. The IEA said the main drivers remain strong for new onshore wind and solar capacities, such as federal tax incentives combined with renewable portfolio standards as well as state-level policies for distributed solar PV.

The IEA said coal will still be the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, though "renewables close the generation gap with coal by half in just five years". "But I have to say, we should not forget the biofuels, which at the end of 2016 represented 96 percent of total renewable transport". While coal is expected to remain the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, its lead over renewables will be halved.

Prices for wind and solar power fell previous 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.

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