IEA Boosts Renewable Energy Forecast, but Trump Tax Plan Might Hurt Industry

by Susie Olson October 6, 2017, 0:25
IEA Boosts Renewable Energy Forecast, but Trump Tax Plan Might Hurt Industry

So it makes for a welcome change of pace that I can lead with an unambiguously positive environmental story this morning: not only was solar power the fastest-growing source of global energy in 2016, but renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new energy coming online - a total of almost 165 gigawatts (GW).

While China easily accounted for most of the renewables growth at 41%, the US was second and surpassed the European Union as it added 24 GW of renewable power in 2016, up 44% Y/Y, the IEA says.

Looking ahead, IEA said China, India and the USA would account for two-thirds of worldwide renewable expansion by 2022.

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

To access our premium content, you or your organisation must have a paid subscription. Biofuels will still account for over 90% of renewable energy in road transport by 2022. China's solar thirst is driven by concerns about air pollution and capacity targets set out in the country's 13 five-year plan to 2020. For the first time, this growth over the forecast period is higher compared with the European Union.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) raised its forecasts on Wednesday for renewable energy over the next five years following a record 2016, adding that renewables growth is squeezing natural gas and coal.

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China installed 34 GW of solar capacity in 2016, out of a global total of 74 GW. "For the next five years, solar PV represents the largest annual capacity additions for renewables, well above wind and hydro". Though coal will still be the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables cut that gap in half.

China's solar dominance is only going to keep growing, according to the IEA report. "And at the same time, we have seen energy costs as a function of spending fall to record lows".

"Dozens of clean energy records have been shattered across the United States in the previous year and a half", said co-author Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of NRDC's energy program.

This would be the first time solar power has surpassed any other fuel as a power source.

The contrasting fortunes of the three largest solar markets - Japan being edged from the top table by India this year - highlight how the solar industry ebbs and flows.

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.

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