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Green Globe: China's solar industry drove worldwide renewable growth last year

China was the market leader in solar photovoltaics last year, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. The People's Republic also saw the highest growth in overall renewables capacity in 2016. Globally, almost two-thirds of added electricity capacity came from renewables last year, totaling about 165 GW of electricity.

More than 360 GW of renewable energy capacity come online in China last year, accounting for about 40% of the world's new renewable capacity. The country was responsible for nearly half of the 74 GW in the world's added solar PV capacity.

SNL Image

China's solar power industry continues to outpace the world.

Associated Press

"Ten years ago, China had just 100 MW of installed solar PV capacity. By the end of 2016, that figure had increased almost 800 times to reach 77 GW," International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol wrote in the report. "China is now the undisputed leader in several renewables sectors, including hydropower, onshore wind, bioenergy for heat and electricity and of course solar PV, where it plays a pivotal role."

Saudi Arabia opened bids for its 300-MW Sakaka solar PV project, the first utility-scale solar farm in the country. Saudi Arabia's Renewable Energy Project Development Office received eight bids for the project and a 25-year power purchase agreement, with the levelized cost of electricity ranging from .06697 to .12625 Saudi riyals/kWh, or approximately 1.78 cents/kWh to 3.34 cents/kWh. According to pv-magazine, a joint venture between French power utility Electricité de France SA and Masdar, a solar developer from United Arab Emirates, submitted the lowest bid for the project.

Khalid Al Falih, the country's energy minister, said in a statement that the bids mark a key development in diversifying Saudi Arabia's domestic energy mix and creating a strong renewable energy sector. "The commercial viability of utility-scale solar energy projects is a cornerstone of the program and the bids opened today will set the benchmark for this burgeoning new industry in the Kingdom and beyond," he said.

The country will announce the project winners on Jan. 27. The solar project is expected to come online sometime in 2019.

In Scotland, tidal and wind energy are being used to generate hydrogen in an experimental project. The "Surf 'n' Turf" project, which aims to resolve grid constraints, HydroWorld reports, and has received £1.3 million in funding from the government.

"Hydrogen itself and hydrogen fuel cells both have huge potential in Scotland's low-carbon energy system and we have already supported a number of world-leading hydrogen demonstration projects," Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish minister of business, innovation and energy, said in a statement. "We are actively considering what role hydrogen can play in Scotland's future energy system as part of the Scottish Energy Strategy, and projects like Surf 'n' Turf have a very important role to play in informing that work."


Senvion SE has entered Argentina's renewables market in a deal with EREN Renewable Energy to supply 97 MW of wind turbines, the company announced.

Statoil ASA will make its solar debut with a joint venture to build several solar projects in Brazil, Reuters reports.

General Electric Co added a second claim to its patent infringement lawsuit against Denmark-based turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

Europe will continue to dominate the offshore wind energy landscape after being responsible for 70% of generation in 2016, S&P Global Ratings analysts said in an Oct. 3 webinar on their latest report, Offshore Wind: A Sea of Changing Risk. Global cumulative offshore wind capacity increased by 18% last year, and S&P Global Ratings expects offshore wind to grow by 3 GW in 2017.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are both owned by S&P Global Inc.