The war against coal may be over, if EPA chief Scott Pruitt is to be believed, and the Trump administration may be trying to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. But according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy sources accounted for almost two-thirds of the net increase in power capacity around the world in 2016.
In recent years, New York City co-ops and condos have been embracing rooftop solar installations, thanks to incentives and tax breaks, coupled with the declining cost of solar panels and other hardware. These early adopters have plenty of company. Last year, new solar capacity around the world grew by a whopping 50 percent, with China accounting for almost half of this expansion. For the first time, solar additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth of coal, which is still the world’s largest source of electricity.
Hydropower remains the world's top renewable energy source, but solar capacity is projected to double by 2022. At current rates of increase, renewables are expected to provide 30 percent of the world’s total power generation by 2022, according to the IEA report.
China alone is responsible for more than 40 percent of global renewable capacity growth, which is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and by a push to meet targets that were outlined in the country’s five-year plan, running from 2016 to 2020. In fact, China already surpassed its 2020 solar target, and the IEA expects it to exceed its wind target in 2019. China is also the world market leader in hydropower, bioenergy for electricity and heat, and electric vehicles.
But tiny Denmark isn’t doing too badly. It now produces 44 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and expects that number to rise to 77 percent in the next five years.
Despite the energy policies of the Trump administration, the United States remains the second-largest growth market for renewable energy.
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