The renewable energy industries have remained strong despite continued efforts from the Trump Administration to push for coal and fossil fuels. That’s despite the fact that renewable energy is cheaper, cleaner and more popular than ever, and Trump’s efforts seem to fight a tide of cheaper energy.
Last week the Trump Administration stood before an international stage at the UN Climate Convention pushing for coal power. The convention, known as COP24, was convened to help countries enact the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016. At the same convention 415 international investors that manage $32 trillion in assets called on governments across the world to end the use of coal energy and to tax carbon.
On the home front, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that under Trump, the US Department of Energy has failed to spend $600 million in funds set aside and designated for clean energy research for the fiscal year of 2018. The NRDC found that two department programs, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has more than $319 million to invest on research and development and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) office has a research budget of $280 million from the fiscal year of 2018 that it has not committed to invest.
In the past the funds have been hugely successful in generating new companies, jobs and materials and processes. ARPA-E’s investments alone have created 71 companies since 2009. Investments into research and development have also been shown to generated huge economic benefits, returning $20 for ever $1 invested in jobs, lower household energy bills, and more.
The import taxes Trump imposed on solar panels are also having an impact on the solar industry. In their quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight Report for Q3 of 2018 Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (formerly GTM Research) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found that the US installed 1.7 gigawatts (GWs) of solar PV in the quarter, a 15 percent drop compared to the same quarter in 2017 and a 20 percent decrease from the previous quarter. They attributed the drop to uncertainty created by the tariffs. It also was the first time that the amount of newly installed utility-scale solar power fell below 1 gigawatt of new power since 2015. Only 678 megawatts of utility-scale solar power was installed in the quarter. The industry is expected to install more solar in the next quarter however.
Still, industry is still interested in solar power and renewable energy. Last week Consolidated Edison (Con Edison) completed its purchase of a Sempra Energy subsidiary, making it the second largest owner of solar power in the country with 2.6 gigawatts of solar power. The purchase added 980 megawatts of renewable energy projects to Con Edison’s energy portfolio.Tweet