Solar power a clear leader, IEA report finds

Canada's renewable energy growth projections scaled back after Ontario scraps clean energy program: Report

Canada's renewable energy growth projections scaled back after Ontario scraps clean energy program: Report

Renewable power capacity grew a record amount globally previous year with China continuing to be the main driver of growth, the IEA's renewables market analysis and forecast said on Wednesday.

The report forecasts out the next five years of renewable energy growth, a short time-frame that is easier to project than some forecasts-like, say, the Energy Information Agency-that are routinely criticized.

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.

"For the first time, solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal", the agency said. The country is seeking to reduce its reliance on coal and has become the world's largest market for renewables, particularly solar.

And the amount of electricity generated from renewables is expected to grow by more than a third in five years, up to 8,000 terawatt hours in 2022, the equivalent to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined. 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. "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV", said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

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The report said the next chapter in the rise of renewables required more work to integrate new technologies into energy systems and increase their application in buildings, industry and transport.

China represents half of global solar PV demand, while Chinese companies account for around 60% of total annual solar cell manufacturing capacity globally.

In mid-2016 the Ontario government suspended the second phase of its Large Renewable Procurement (LPR) program, axing $3.8 billion in planned renewable energy contracts. Upward trends in China and India mostly drove the increase.

IEA also said that in spite of rapidly rising sales of electric vehicles (EV), the share of renewables in road transport will likely rise only slightly to 4.5% in 2022 from over 4% in 2016. While coal is expected to remain the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, its lead over renewables will be halved. By 2022, clean energy will produce much more electricity than gas and inch even closer to closing the gap with coal.

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