IEA raises green energy outlook

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The IEA calculated that new solar PV capacity grew by 50 per cent past year, with China accounting for nearly half of the global expansion.

Historically, the IEA has significantly underestimated growth in renewables, notably solar PV and its newly renamed report "Renewables 2017" (formerly titled Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report) is an attempt to redress fundamental failings over the last decade of forecasts.

The projected growth is 12 per cent more bullish than the IEA's forecast past year.

Renewables made up almost two-thirds of new net power capacity around the world in 2016, with 165 GW of capacity coming online.

For the first time, solar PV additions increased faster than any other fuel, eclipsing the net growth in coal. 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.

Predicting for the next five years, it said that global renewable electricity generation would grow by as much as total current consumption of China, India and Germany combined.

Globally, China and India lead renewable capacity growth projections.

The IEA expects about 1,000 gigawatts of renewables will be installed in the next five years, a milestone that coal only accomplished after 80 years. Upward trends in China and India mostly drove the increase.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV (photovoltaic)", IEA executive director, Fatih Birol, said in a new report. Solar and wind power in India combine for about 90 percent of new capacity growth.

The IEA also recognised PV growth in 2016 also delivered record-low auction prices for electricity generation, which fell as low as 3 cents per kwh (or kilowatt hour), with emerging markets such as the UAE, Mexico and Chile becoming low price leaders.

Despite the United States now being the second largest solar energy creator, analysts hinted that USA federal policy could hamper growth in solar capacity.

The International Energy Agency's annual outlook for renewable energy, released Wednesday, projects Canada's renewable capacity to grow by nine gigawatts between 2017 and 2022, down from last year's report that projected capacity would grow by 13GW. With this, India will match the USA, becoming the joint second-largest growth market after China. As a whole, renewables represented almost two-thirds of new electricity capacity additions past year, far outshining coal and natural gas growth.

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