Solar capacity increased by 50% in 2016, faster than the growth of any other energy source.
China accounted for almost half of this expansion, according to new statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The organisation says China’s renewable growth is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and ambitious capacity targets.
Boosted by the strong solar market, renewables made up almost two-thirds of new power capacity around the world last year, with almost 165GW coming online.
By 2022, renewable electricity capacity is expected to increase by a further 43%, with generation reaching more than 8,000 terawatt hours – equivalent to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined.
Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA, said: “We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build.
“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar. We expect that solar capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”