solar PV renewable electricity production trend

Solar PV grew the fastest in adding electricity production to the grid

Eric Garland DataLab

Good news from the International Energy Agency: solar PV and renewables in general grew the most in 2016 in terms of adding to the electrical grid.

Boosted by a strong solar PV market, renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world last year, with almost 165 gigawatts (GW) coming online, according to the new report, Renewables 2017. Renewables will continue to have a strong growth in coming years. By 2022, renewable electricity capacity should increase by 43%.

This development should keep downward pressure on the price of other fossil fuels, and drive even more infrastructure policies that favor the electrical grid as a driver of GDP.

China remains the undisputed leader of renewable electricity capacity expansion over the forecast period with over 360 GW of capacity coming online, or 40% of the global total. 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. In fact, China already exceeded its 2020 solar PV target three years ahead of time and is set to achieve its onshore wind target in 2019. Still, the growing cost of renewable subsidies and grid integration issues remain two important challenges to further expansion.

Under an accelerated case – where government policy lifts barriers to growth – IEA analysis finds that renewable capacity growth could be boosted by another 30%, totalling an extra 1,150 GW by 2022 led by China. Solar PV and wind capacity in China could by then reach twice the total power capacity of Japan today.

India’s move to address the financial health of its utilities and tackle grid-integration issues drive a more optimistic forecast. By 2022, India renewable capacity will more than double. This growth is enough to overtake renewable expansion in the European Union for the first time. Solar PV and wind together represent 90% of India’s capacity growth as auctions yielded some of the world’s lowest prices for both technologies.

Executive summary for Renewables 2017 can be found here.