Published: Fri, October 06, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Renewable power hits record in 2016: IEA

Renewable power hits record in 2016: IEA

Renewable energy grew to 14 percent of total US electricity sales in 2016, with wind and solar amounting to 8 percent and hydropower and geothermal accounting for the other 6 percent.

The agency added that it expects more than 920GW of clean power to be installed by 2022, an increase of 43%.

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Despite policy uncertainty, the United States will remain the second-largest renewables growth market, mainly due to tax incentives and state-level policies for solar PV, the IEA said.

The IEA addressed the proposed tax plan, saying "the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, global trade, and energy policies could have implications for the relative economics of renewables and alter their expansion over the forecast period". This figure, IEA said, was equivalent to the power consumption of China, India and Germany combined. "This growth is enough to overtake renewable expansion in the European Union for the first time", IEA said in its latest renewables market analysis and forecast. "And at the same time, we have seen energy costs as a function of spending fall to record lows". China accounted for roughly half of the expansion, a total of 165 gigawatts of new solar energy in the world.

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For the first time, solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal, said the report. "We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022", Birol added.

Misjudged the huge increases in solar power, forecasting less than 1 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar by 2016 when the total was 46 times that amount, and no more than 18 GW of wind power, when it reached 82 GW - a almost five-fold increase. Most new demand for electricity is being supplied by renewable resources, with solar providing the most. However, coal will continue to be the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, with renewables closing the generation gap with coal by half in just five years, according to IEA. Nearly 165 gigawatts came on stream in 2016, with IEA adding that renewable electricity capacity looked set to grow by 43% by 2022.

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IEA said that in the US, current political uncertainty stemming from the Suniva Section 201 case could alter the economic attractiveness of renewables, thus hampering growth out to 2022. Globally, electricity consumed by EVs - including cars, two- and-three wheelers, and buses - is expected to double by 2022 but will still account for less than 1% of total electricity generation.

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