In 2016, for the first time in history, solar energy grew faster than any other source of energy. That's according to a (IEA), which also notes that " renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world" last year.
The rise in solar is mainly driven by developments in China, although there are other factors worldwide that help to explain its growth. China accounted for roughly half of the expansion, a total of 165 gigawatts of new solar energy in the world. Solar energy has already become the world's cheapest energy source, and new low prices were announced worldwide, including in India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and Chile.
China's push towards solar energy stems from the country's notoriously poor air quality, and in the country's , it announced an intention to increase the share of non-fossil energy to 15% by 2020. The IEA's report finds that China has in fact, already passed that goal in terms total solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity.
China is already the world's market leader in hydropower, bioenergy for electricity and heat, and electric vehicles. An IEA analysis shows that if China continues on its path of uninhibited renewable growth, by 2022 solar PV and wind power there could double Japan's total energy output.
The report predicts that three countries will make up two-thirds of the world's renewables expansion by 2022: China, the United States, and and India. Given the to solar energy at the federal level, the IEA resists making predictions as to what it will look like by 2022. India, on the other hand, "is expected to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity. For the first time, this growth over the forecast period is higher compared with the European Union."
There are worries that India's rock-bottom prices will make its solar industry . But its rapid growth means that it will likely soon rival the United States for the second-highest growth rates.
Regardless of where it stands in a specific region of the world, renewables in general and solar PV in specific are making rapid advances across the globe.
"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," says Dr Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, in a . "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."