Solar Becomes Most Popular Renewable Energy Alternative around the Globe

165 gigawatts (GW) of power came online in 2016, and the numbers continue to rise.

According to a recent publication by the IEA (International Energy Agency), solar lead the way in renewable alternative energy in 2016, accounting for nearly two-thirds of new power capacity around the world with nearly 165 gigawatts of power coming online. The IEA cites a boon in solar development and deployment of PV technology from China and other manufacturers as the reason behind its popularity, which grew by 50% with over 74 GW being produced by China alone. Of course, efficient PV technology, lower prices, and changing government policies (except for the US) helped bolster those numbers, which continue to rise.

The publication also cites solar costs being as low as 3-cents per kilowatt-hour in countries such as Chile, Mexico, India and the United Arab Emirates, making the renewable energy an attractive alternative to fossil fuels. Surprisingly, in the US solar energy now costs just 6-cents, beating the target goal for costs by three years (2020) according to DOE projections, which did not include Investment Tax Credits that would make that price substantially lower. These findings have most experts predicting that solar energy will continue to remain in the top spot over other renewables and electricity capacity should increase by 43% over the next five years.

Dr. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA stated, “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. What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

While world nations are embracing renewable energy at an impressive rate, the US is starting to lag behind even though the price per-kilowatt-hour is improving with solar. In fact, the US remains in the number 2 spot (under China) in the growth market for renewables, including onshore wind and solar, however the IEA said despite these encouraging figures there lies an uncertainty of doubt over tax reforms, international trade, and energy policies could alter their attractiveness and stifle growth of renewables in the long term. Considering the Trump administration’s push for coal and other fossil fuels, the US may fall behind the rest of the world, but at least the numbers remain encouraging, at least for now.

Posted by Cabe Atwell