'New era' in solar energy fuelling growth in renewables: IEA

Canada's renewable energy growth projections scaled back after Ontario scraps clean energy program: Report

"New era" for solar power as growth outpaced all other fuels in 2016

Solar power blossomed faster than for any other fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead. Coal in particular had continued to grow in recent years despite global targets to reduce carbon emissions.

However, the IEA covered its bets on China, suggesting in further government policy support or reduction in the barriers to renewable energy growth, capacity could be increased by a further 30% in its global forecast, which equated to an extra 1,150 GW by 2022 led by China.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV".

China, India and the U.S. are set to make up two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022.

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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.

By 2022, the amount of solar that has been installed globally will exceed the combined total electricity capacity of India and Japan today. Upward trends in China and India mostly drove the increase.

And the amount of electricity generated from renewables is expected to grow by more than a third in five years, up to 8,000 terawatt hours in 2022, the equivalent to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined.

The IEA addressed the proposed tax plan, saying "the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, worldwide trade, and energy policies could have implications for the relative economics of renewables and alter their expansion over the forecast period".

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IEA also said that in spite of rapidly rising sales of electric vehicles (EV), the share of renewables in road transport will likely rise only slightly to 4.5% in 2022 from over 4% in 2016.

The IEA, however, expects the growth in hydro power capacity to "slow significantly" beyond 2022, after a raft of new hydro projects come online. But biofuels will lead 80 percent of the growth in renewable-powered transport. "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.

Although coal will still be the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables is on track to close the generation gap with coal by half in just five years.

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