Global investment in solar power is set to outstrip that for both coal and nuclear energy combined in 2017.
A new report from business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts solar power to be the fastest growing segment of the energy sector over the next few years.
The consultant believes investment in solar power will increase by 11.5% to reach $141.6bn in 2017.
Frost & Sullivan is also expecting increased consolidation in the sector as energy companies seek funding for expansion and to introduce new products.
"As new geographies emerge, local legislation and pro-renewable incentives will impact the fuel mix, compelling industry participants to identify challenges and define localisation strategies for long-term growth," said Energy & Environment Principal Consultant Jonathan Robinson of Frost & Sullivan.
The firm expects wind power to be the second fastest growing segment of the global energy sector over the next few years, as solar power leads. Its report, Global Power Industry Outlook, 2017, predicts that solar and wind power will account for 37.5% and 21% of global investment in energy respectively by 2020.
Both international accords to promote increased use of renewables and declining renewable technology costs are expected to boost energy capacity per dollar invested.
While the report forecasts China to become the largest market in terms of revenue investment, the fastest growth in terms of countries is expected to come from India.
European renewables focus
In Europe, by far the vast majority of new investment in power generation is being targeted at renewable technologies, though Russia is expected to focus on nuclear and hydro power.
However, the Frost & Sullivan report forecasts an overall increase in global coal capacity, despite an expected decline in the utilisation rate of existing coal-fired plants in most global regions.