'New era' in solar energy fuelling growth in renewables: IEA

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

For the first time ever, there were more grid additions from solar power than another other type of fuel, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

It said solar will account for the largest annual capacity additions for renewables over the next five years, above both wind and hydro.

The forecast is 12% higher than past year, mainly as a result of upward revisions for solar additions in China and India.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV".

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For road transport, IEA projects that renewable-powered vehicles will increase marginally in the next five years to make up 5 percent of transport from the current 4 percent.

IEA notes that India's renewable capacity expansion could be boosted by nearly a third, providing that existing grid integration and infrastructure challenges are addressed, policy and regulatory uncertainties are reduced, and costs continue to fall.

Renewables will account for 30% of power generation by that time, up from 24% in 2016, the IEA's report said.

"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. Solar and wind power in India combine for about 90 percent of new capacity growth. "We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022".

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In line with its recent determination to end up a victor in the renewable energy market, China led the way on building solar capacity.

By 2022, India, the world's second-most populous country, is expected to more than double its renewable electricity capacity, according to the IEA.

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.

"China's renewables growth is largely driven by concerns about air pollution", the Paris-based institution admitted. "But I have to say, we should not forget the biofuels, which at the end of 2016 represented 96 percent of total renewable transport". As a whole, renewables represented almost two-thirds of new electricity capacity additions previous year, far outshining coal and natural gas growth. By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by almost 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts now installed.

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