This year's renewable energy report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms what many watching the industry already know: clean energy prices have taken a nosedive, upping competition and uptake of new technologies.
Surging solar installations in China and other markets helped the world add almost 165 GW of renewables in 2016, nearly two-thirds of net new power capacity.
Solar PV capacity grew by 50 per cent to reach more than 74 GW a year ago and it was the first time solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal. Coal in particular had continued to grow in recent years despite global targets to reduce carbon emissions.
By 2022, India, the world's second-most populous country, is expected to more than double its renewable electricity capacity, according to the IEA.
By 2022, the amount of solar that has been installed globally will exceed the combined total electricity capacity of India and Japan today.
"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV".
The IEA put much of the solar surge down to a large reduction in the cost of deployment and increased support from governments. The figure is set to increase by 43 percent over the next five years, said the report.
Prices for wind and solar power fell previous year to record lows in countries including India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Chile, making the technologies increasingly comparable with or cheaper than energy from new gas or coal power stations.
"Still, the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, worldwide trade and energy policies could alter the economic attractiveness of renewables and hamper their growth over our forecast period", the IEA's report read.
Despite slower capacity growth, hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation in the IEA forecast, followed by wind, solar PV and bioenergy.
The share of renewables in power generation will reach 30 per cent in 2022, up from 24 per cent in 2016.
The stunning growth trajectories reflected in the IEA report show how quickly the transition to renewables can be underway when aggressive policies cut through the barriers to growth. As a whole, renewables represented almost two-thirds of new electricity capacity additions past year, far outshining coal and natural gas growth.
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