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Solar energy is fastest growing source of power

Solar energy is fastest growing source of power

While Ontario's decision to scrap the LRP program is a minor setback in the near-term, analysts say that tightening environmental policy in Canada and elsewhere will regardless continue to drive rapid growth in renewable energy supplies like wind and solar.

Solar PV capacity grew faster than that of any other power source in 2016, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The surge in solar power has come as a result of policies supporting low-carbon energy and cost reductions for solar PV and wind. The projected growth is 12% higher than the IEA's forecast previous year.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV (photovoltaic)", IEA executive director, Fatih Birol, said in a new report.

The report said the next chapter in the rise of renewables required more work to integrate new technologies into energy systems and increase their application in buildings, industry and transport. And Quebec cancelled tenders for several clean energy projects, which also led the agency to trim its forecasts, the report said. A decade ago, fossil fuels got $8.2 billion while renewables received $5.3 billion in tax preferences, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The recognition in China dominating PV installations, which accounted for around 50% of total in 2016 was another positive but the IEA claimed that the "growing cost of renewable subsidies and grid integration issues remain two important challenges to further expansion".

The US is the second largest market for renewables, but there is uncertainty in the future over federal tax reforms, global trade and energy policy, the report said.

The IAE predicted that China, India and America would account for two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022 and that renewables would account for 30 percent of global power generation, up from 24 percent in 2016.

India is expected to more than double its current renewables capacity by 2022, IEA said. For the first time, this growth over the forecast period is higher compared with the European Union. The country added 360 gigawatts, accounting for 40 percent of the globe's PV capacity growth.

It also predicts fast growth in off-grid solar PV, which could bring electricity to nearly 70 million more people in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The country is seeking to reduce its reliance on coal and has become the world's largest market for renewables, particularly solar.