February 19, 2018

New era of solar power is now upon us, IEA says

06 October 2017, 12:23 | Kenneth Drake

Image via Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

The IEA's raised forecast was powered by a spike in solar PV (photovoltaic) capacity in China, India and the United States, with China accounting for nearly half of this expansion. "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.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the rise of solar energy globally was because of a boom in the installations of photovoltaic panels - especially in China - due to price drops and government support.

The projected growth is 12 percent more bullish than the IEA┬┤s forecast a year ago.

Along with new policies that spur competition in several other countries, this Chinese dynamic has led to record-low announced prices of solar PV and onshore wind, which are now comparable or even lower than new-built fossil fuel alternatives. A good blend of renewable and traditional energy sources is needed. If corporate rates fall - the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the world - investors will have less need for write-offs, and that could undermine a key source of financing for clean energy.

The market for renewable electric vehicles has not picked up momentum as expected, according to the report from International Energy Agency (IEA), which says the growth has been marginal, from over 4 percent in 2016 to 4.5 percent in 2022.

"China's renewables growth is largely driven by concerns about air pollution", the Paris-based institution admitted.

Historically, the IEA has significantly underestimated growth in renewables, notably solar PV and its newly renamed report "Renewables 2017" (formerly titled Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report) is an attempt to redress fundamental failings over the last decade of forecasts.

The US is the second largest market for renewables, but there is uncertainty in the future over federal tax reforms, global trade and energy policy, the report said. Solar and wind power in India combine for about 90 percent of new capacity growth. "And at the same time, we have seen energy costs as a function of spending fall to record lows".

Electricity capacity addition by fuel, 2016.

IEA is more bullish for developing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed the latter is predicted to double by 2022, overtaking the combined might of the EU.

This means growth in renewable generation will be twice as large as that of gas and coal combined.

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