Renewable power capacity grew a record amount globally last year with China continuing to be the main driver of growth, the IEA’s renewables market analysis and forecast said on Wednesday.
The US and India are also expected to drive renewables growth.
Last year, new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity around the world grew by 50 per cent, reaching over 74 gigawatts (GW), with China accounting for almost half of this expansion. For the first time, solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
The US is to be the second-largest growth market for renewables despite uncertainties about the policy.
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 expects India to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity by 2022. It could potentially increase its renewable capacity as quickly as the US.
It also predicts fast growth in off-grid solar PV, which could bring electricity to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
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.
The share of renewables in power generation will reach 30 per cent in 2022, up from 24 per cent in 2016.
The predicted growth in renewable power capacity is now 12 per cent higher than it was in last year’s prediction.
This means growth in renewable generation will be twice as large as that of gas and coal combined. While coal is expected to remain the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, its lead over renewables will be halved.
China continues to be the main driver of growth in renewable.
China installed 34 GW of solar capacity in 2016, out of a global total of 74 GW. It was responsible for 41 per cent of global renewable additions.
The IEA predicts global renewable power capacity will expand by 43 per cent from 2017-2022, a more optimistic forecast than previously.
This higher forecast is because of increase in predictions of China and India’s solar PV additions.
The IEA expects China alone to add 40 per cent of new global renewable capacity.
“The IEA renewables report affirms the remarkable success story of renewable energy, which we are proud to be part of. Solar power is clearly the most important new clean energy source, with more new capacity added in 2016 than dirty coal,” said Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Storebrand Asset Management.
Storebrand is the largest private pension in Norway with over $80 billion assets under management. It launched its fossil fuel-free funds this April which is now valued at over $1.6 billion, a figure which is set to rise.