Solar PV fastest growing fuel in 2016

New solar PV capacity grew by 50% last year, with China accounting for almost half of the global expansion, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest renewables market analysis and forecast.

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

Boosted by a strong solar PV market, renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world last year, with almost 165 gigawatts (GW) coming online, according to the new report, ‘Renewables 2017’. Renewables will continue to have a strong growth in coming years. By 2022, renewable electricity capacity should increase by 43%, according to the report.

“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.

“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

This year’s renewable forecast is 12% higher than last year, thanks mostly to solar PV upward revisions in China and India. Three countries — China, India and the United States — will account for two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022. Total solar PV capacity by then would exceed the combined total power capacities of India and Japan today.

The deployment in solar PV and wind last year was accompanied by record-low auction prices, which fell as low as 3 cents per kWh (or kilowatt hour) in a variety of places, such as India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Chile. These announced contract prices for solar PV and wind power purchase agreements are increasingly comparable or lower than generation costs of newly built gas and coal power plants, the IEA said.

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