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IEA Boosts Renewable Energy Forecast, but Trump Tax Plan Might Hurt Industry

"We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW (gigawatts) by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build", Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said in a statement within the report. As Dr. Paolo Frankl, one of the lead authors on the report, said on a call to reporters, "In one year, China will install the equivalent of the total history of solar development in Germany".

Despite policy uncertainties at the federal level, the USA remains the second-largest growth market for renewable. India has set a target of having 175 GW of renewable energy including 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind power by 2022. "Overall, weaker electricity demand, overcapacity and limited visibility on forthcoming auction capacity volumes in some markets remain challenges to renewable growth".

China's push towards solar energy stems from the country's notoriously poor air quality, and in the country's 13th five-year plan, it announced an intention to increase the share of non-fossil energy to 15% by 2020. The IEA credits the growth chiefly to low costs (auction prices were as low as three cents per kilowatt-hour, the report says) alongside government policy nudging people away from coal and towards renewables.

Net additions to renewable energy capacity in 2016, which include solar, wind, hydropower, bioenergy, wave and tidal, grew by 165 gigawatts (GW), six per cent more than in 2015. As Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich pointed out in a recent presentation, actual renewables growth has for many years outpaced IEA's annual forecasts (check out pages 54-74 of this document).

Buoyed by a 50% increase in solar capacity around the world, the International Energy Agency has raised its forecasts for renewable energy over the next five years. Meanwhile, renewable energy grew to 14% of the total United States electricity sales in 2016, with wind and solar accounting for 8% and hydropower and geothermal account for 6%. India, on the other hand, "is expected to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity".

The influential Paris-based agency said its recent outlook for Canadian renewables was "less optimistic" than its 2016 projection due to "recent changes in auctions schemes in Ontario and Quebec".

"When you look at how clean energy development has exploded beyond official government projections from just 10 years ago, it offers hope that its potential will continue to far surpass expectations and we'll meet our USA climate goals", she said.

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