A report released last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that solar will be one of the fastest growing renewables over the next five years.
The Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report forecasts that electricity generated by renewable resources will increase by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60 percent more than the growth between 2006 and 2011.
The study analysed 15 markets for renewables, including hydropower, bioenergy, wind, solar and geothermal, and provided country projections for the coming five years.
The report predicts that two thirds of this growth in renewables will occur in non-OECD countries; China alone will account for nearly 40% of this increase, though much of the new deployments will be in the U.S., India, Germany and Brazil.
“Renewable energy is expanding rapidly as technologies mature, with deployment transitioning from support-driven markets to new and potentially more competitive segments in many countries,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
Solar will make up 4.9 percent of all renewable electricity generation in 2017. Installed capacity of photovoltaics should grow at over 27 percent annually, bringing global capacity from 70 GW in 2011 up to 230 GW in 2017. This rise will be led by China, the U.S., Germany and Japan.
But the report notes that despite strong growth in residential, commercial and utility-scale PV installations, manufacturers will likely still see weak profits.
The IEA predicts that concentrating solar power capacity should rise from 2 GW in 2011 to 11 GW in 2017 – a slower increase than industry supporters had hoped, and according to the report, this disappointing growth is credited to price competition from PV and difficulties in obtaining permits and grid connections for the large CSP projects.
The positive predictions are based on technology cost decreases and supportive policies in a growing number of countries.
But while renewables are “a crucial pillar of the global energy mix,” according to van der Hoeven, continued expansion is contingent on economic policy, grid and system integration issues, and ease of access to financing.