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A new International Energy Agency forecast this morning projects that worldwide renewable energy capacity will grow by another 43 percent over the next five years amid surging solar increases in China and other factors.

Why it matters: The worldwide growth of solar and wind power is one of the various reasons why global carbon dioxide emissions have leveled off in recent years. Going forward, expansion of zero-carbon energy is key to efforts to avoid the most dangerous levels of global warming.

Expand chart

IEA, Renewables 2017: Analysis and Forecasts 2022; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Crystal ball: In its newly released five-year forecast, the IEA predicts over 920 gigawatts of capacity growth, signalling a somewhat more aggressive forecast than last year's study, largely on the strength of upward revisions to forecasts for China and India.

The chart above shows the major technologies fueling the growth, with wind and solar together represent over 80 percent of the projected growth.

  • "China alone is responsible for 40% of global renewable capacity growth, which is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and capacity targets that were outlined in the country's 13th five-year plan to 2020," IEA said.

One big question: Whether IEA, while projecting growth, is too timid in its outlook. 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).

A few other takeaways from the IEA report, which takes stock of 2016 as well as forecasting the next five years:

Solar milestone: In 2016, additions of solar photovoltaic capacity grew by 50 percent, faster than any other kind of fuel for the first time, with China leading the way.

United States is a good bet: It's the second-largest growth market after China, and renewables are projected to rise from 15 percent of U.S. electricity capacity in 2016 despite "policy uncertainty" associated with the new Trump administration.

Getting closer to coal: IEA predicts that renewables' share of global power generation will be 30% in 2022, up from 24 percent last year, with hydropower remaining the largest total source over the forecast period.

  • "While coal remains the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables close in on its lead. In 2016, renewable generation was 34% less than coal but by 2022 this gap will be halved to just 17%," IEA said.

Go deeper

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

National Guard chief: Pentagon's "unusual" Jan. 6 restrictions led to 3-hour delay

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, testified Wednesday that a three-hour delay in approval for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was exacerbated by "unusual" restrictions on his authorities by Pentagon leadership.

Why it matters: Walker testified that if Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had not prohibited him in a Jan. 5 memo from using the National Guard's "Quick Reaction Force" without authorization, he would have "immediately" sent troops to the Capitol after receiving a "frantic call" from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

1 hour ago - World

U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is going nowhere fast

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Iran's cool response to the Biden administration's push for diplomatic engagement, along with rising tensions in the region, makes clear that salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal may be far more difficult than many had anticipated.

The state of play: Both the U.S. and Iran have entered the diplomatic dance, but it seems to be moving in circles.

Venture capital firm Indie.vc is shutting down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Indie.vc, an effort launched six years ago to invest small amounts in bootstrapped businesses, announced on Tuesday that it’s winding down.

Why it matters: Venture capital, despite being the money of innovation, is rarely innovative itself. Indie.vc was an effort to break out of the tedium, so its failure is de facto disappointing.

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