2016 “another record year for renewables,” IEA says

In its newly released Renewables 2017 report, the International Energy Agency indicates renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new electricity generating capacity around the world in 2016.

Almost 165 GW of renewable capacity came online in 2016. New solar PV capacity around the world grew by 50%, IEA says, reaching more than 74 GW. Solar PV additions surpassed the net growth in coal, according to the report, rising “faster than any other fuel.”

IEA says this “record performance in 2016” forms the bedrock of its electricity forecast, which sees renewable electricity capacity expanding by more than 920 GW through 2022, a 43% increase.

Specific to hydropower, the report says, “Despite slower capacity growth [than solar PV], hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation in our forecast, followed by wind, solar PV and bioenergy.”

The report calls out China a “the undisputed renewable growth leader.” It says China is the world market leader in hydropower, bioenergy and electric vehicles, as well as already surpassing its 2020 solar PV target and being anticipated to exceed its wind target in 2019.

In fact, IEA says three countries will account for two thirds of global renewable expansion to 2022: China, the United States and India.

With so much wind and solar being added, system integration becomes increasingly important, IEA says. An increase in system flexibility is needed to minimize the exposure of variable renewables to the risk of losing system value at increasing market penetration levels. “Market and policy frameworks need to evolve in order to cope simultaneously with multiple objectives … as well as fostering a portfolio of dispatchable renewable technologies, including hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and CSP,” IEA says.

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