The last few weeks of 2016 saw some interesting things for the solar industry. While climate change is still an issue, people, like the World Economic Forum are seeing it as an opportunity for investment. Meanwhile even Republican leaders, at least at the state level, are warming up to the solar industry.
The solar power industry is coming off a record year in 2016 and 2017 looks to be an even greater year. While the President-Elect Trump said during his campaign that he wants to bring back more coal and oil jobs, likely making it harder for wind and solar. Industry experts don’t think he’ll follow through with that. Partly because wind and solar are now starting to outcompete fossil fuels.
Trump also expressed interest in pulling out of Paris Accord on climate change, but already the US’s energy sector emissions have fallen to their lowest levels in 25 years in the first six months of 2016. It also looks like 2016’s emissions could be the lowest since 1992.
In that vein, the nonprofit World Economic Forum also called investing in renewable energy a great opportunity. The organization observed that the lower costs of renewable energy are making it an increasingly obvious choice for investing in new energy projects worldwide.
It looks like more people, from all sides of the political spectrum, are getting the point. Recently Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have made it more difficult to grow the renewables industry in the state. The bill was an extension of one he previously signed into law in 2014 but it shows how much—even in two years—mindsets are changing about renewable energy.
In fact, even some utilities are significantly boosting their targets fro renewables significantly. For instance, Hawaii Electric Companies (HECO) announced it wants to source half of its power from renewables in the next four years. Ultimately, it wants to source all of its electricity from renewables by 2040—five years ahead of a state deadline.
Last week Tesla and Panasonic announced that Panasonic is investing $260 million to manufacture photovoltaics at its Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, NY. There it will manufacture Panasonic solar cells for SolarCity.
In one interesting development, solar and wind power will propel a new, unmanned Mayflower trimaran that recreates the journey of the first pilgrims to land in Plymouth, MA. The namesake ship will take off from Plymouth in the UK in 2020 and will use drones and other technologies to conduct research as it recreates the historic journey.Tweet