Today is the day Donald Trump has been elected as the President of the United States. However he won’t be moving into the White House any time soon as apparently it’s not up to his living standards. Quite a different world from the rest of the people that have voted him in. However such is the will of the people, but what will Donald Trump being president mean for the Renewable Energy Industry?
During his campaign, Donald Trump’s position on Energy has been very different from Hilary Clinton’s. He wants to lift the regulations on the fossil fuel industries to “unleash, untapped energy potential”. He wants America to be ‘Energy Independent’, and he also wants more fracking of natural gas to help achieve this. In the speech he gave in Bismarck, North Dakota, he called on the government to “get out of the way” of the energy industry, criticising regulations of the oil and coal industry “We’ve got to get rid of some of these regulations, It’s gotten out of control.” Effectively turning his back on carbon neutrality.
With regards to renewable energy, although he is open to Solar, Wind and other energy sources, he has labelled them as expensive. Failing to realise that the cost of Solar energy has dramatically reduced over the last few years. Trump has also expressed the exaggerated claim that wind farms are killing high numbers of protected species of Eagles and other birds. A claim that is largely exaggerated to help with his popular opinion that he will be focusing on creating jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries.
Donald Trump’s views on fossil fuel energy and renewables energy sources are very different from the Obama administration. For example he has pledged to ‘Cancel the Paris climate agreement…rescind all job-destroying Obama agreements… including the Climate Action Plan.” Donald Trump clearly isn’t sensitive to climate change and the effect of carbon on the environment, which will like likely influence his policy decisions.
Taking a pessimistic view based on Donald Trumps pledges. If he changes the policies and subsidies for renewable energy it will likely call into question fundamental business models of many solar companies, and renewable energy businesses. Obviously we don’t want this to happen, but his views are not the most positive for the industry.
The effect of policy as an example can be seen with SolarCity in Nevada, who In January this year had to let 550 staff go because of a change in subsidy policy. A change which meant that homes with rooftop solar panels sell back their excess energy at the wholesale rate instead of the retail rate, and they’ll also be required to pay for maintenance of the state’s energy grid. As a result, households that installed solar panels on their rooftop will see monthly utility bills far higher than what they initially anticipated. That’s a major problem for SolarCity and businesses like it.
Let us hope that Donald Trump, in his presidency, will soon come to realise the ‘untapped energy potential’ from clean renewable energy sources and understand the business-case for clean energy with a longer term view. In his speeches he has made it clear that he is for using renewable energy, but not to the exclusion of the fossil fuel industries. We will have to wait to see, as the new President of America balances the policies and subsidies between the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries, with a goal of being an ‘energy independent’ country.
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