IEA hails new era in solar PV

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For the very first time, solar PV additions grew faster than any other resource, surpassing coal growth.

"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.

In 2016, it expanded renewable capacity by 24 GW, which was 44 per cent higher than in 2015 and more than the European Union for the first time.

The IEA added that Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) and wind together represent 90 per cent of India's capacity growth as auctions yielded some of the world's lowest prices for both technologies.

The U.S. and India are among other nations pushing renewables.

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In developing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the off-grid capacity in these regions will nearly triple during the forecast period, reaching over 3 000 MW in 2022 driven by government electrification programs, and private sector investments. China alone is expected to be responsible for 40 per cent of renewable capacity growth in the next five years, while India will double its renewable electricity capacity by 2022. At this rate, renewables are expected to provide 30 percent of power generation by 2022.

"China's renewables growth is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and capacity targets that were outlined in the country's 13th five-year plan to 2020", the agency said in the report.

"It's not just this (Ontario) renewables program, it's the carbon pricing program, the coal phase out, a whole plethora of programs that are squeezing natural gas margins", said Dave Sawyer, an economist at EnviroEconomics in Ottawa.

While Ontario's decision to scrap the LRP program is a minor setback in the near-term, analysts say that tightening environmental policy in Canada and elsewhere will regardless continue to drive rapid growth in renewable energy supplies like wind and solar. The IEA's report finds that China has in fact, already passed that goal in terms total solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. Upward trends in China and India mostly drove the increase. "By 2022, renewable electricity capacity should increase by 43 per cent", the report said.

"The IEA renewables report affirms the remarkable success story of renewable energy, which we are proud to be part of". By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by almost 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts now installed. It launched its fossil fuel-free funds this April which is now valued at over $1.6 billion, a figure which is set to rise.