Solar Energy Is Growing Faster Than Any Other Energy Source

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.

Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, Birol said this year's report showed another record for growth in renewable energy.

Despite policy uncertainties at the federal level, the USA remains the second-largest growth market for renewable.

The IEA expects India to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity by 2022. "Overall, weaker electricity demand, overcapacity and limited visibility on forthcoming auction capacity volumes in some markets remain challenges to renewable growth".

For the first time since 1960, the average USA household spent less than 4 percent of its income on all energy in 2016-including gasoline and electricity spending-despite the much larger number of electronic gadgets and appliances we now use. The group's fifth annual energy report, America's Clean Energy Revolution, was published this week, confirming U.S. shattered dozens of clean energy records over the a year ago and a half and proving that a massive shift is underway in America's energy landscape - from traditional fossil fuels and nuclear towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Even the threat of cheap supplies of natural gas, a major competitor to renewable supplies, is unlikely to keep wind and solar supplies off the market as costs continue to fall. "We expect that solar photovoltaic capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022".

"Still, the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, global trade and energy policies could alter the economic attractiveness of renewables and hamper their growth over our forecast period", the IEA's report read. Renewable electricity generation will grow by more than a third to over 8,000 TWh. The government's ambition of 160 GW renewable energy generation by 2022 is expected to make the prices more competitive.

China installed 34 GW of solar capacity in 2016, out of a global total of 74 GW. The world is collectively expected to grow renewable electricity capacity by 43 per cent between 2017 and 2022.

Crystal ball: In its newly released five-year forecast, the IEA predicts over 920 gigawatts of capacity growth, signalling a somewhat more aggressive forecast than last year's study, largely on the strength of upward revisions to forecasts for China and India.

  • Eleanor Harrison