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Renewable power hits record in 2016: IEA

Renewable power hits record in 2016: IEA

A report released by International Energy Agency (IEA) says India, China and the USA will account for two thirds of global renewable expansion to 2022.

For the first time ever, there were more grid additions from solar power than another other type of fuel, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

The IEA forecast follows a strong year for renewable energy capacity in which the sector - including hydropower, solar, wind, bioenergy, wave and tidal - grew by 165 GW, 6% more than in 2015, the report said.

"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.

"Solar PV is entering a new era", said an ebullient IEA in its report. The figure is set to increase by 43 percent over the next five years, said the report.

The institution established after the first major oil crisis in 1973 said 165 gigawatts of renewables were completed past year, which was two-thirds of the net expansion in electricity supply.

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By 2022, the amount of solar that has been installed globally will exceed the combined total electricity capacity of India and Japan today. "We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build", Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said.

The IEA also recognised PV growth in 2016 also delivered record-low auction prices for electricity generation, which fell as low as 3 cents per kwh (or kilowatt hour), with emerging markets such as the UAE, Mexico and Chile becoming low price leaders.

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".

The rise in solar is mainly driven by developments in China, although there are other factors worldwide that help to explain its growth. "But I have to say, we should not forget the biofuels, which at the end of 2016 represented 96 percent of total renewable transport". By 2022, clean energy will produce much more electricity than gas and inch even closer to closing the gap with coal.

India is expected to more than double its current renewables capacity by 2022, IEA said. While coal is expected to remain the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, its lead over renewables will be halved.