Saturday, January 14, 2017

Guest Post: Why Clean Energy Matters More Now Than Ever

(Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this timely guest post by Gemma Hunt)

During the election campaign process, President-elect Donald Trump was very vocal about his desire to repel many of the clean energy policies put in place by President Obama. He has threatened to abolish the Clean Power Plan, completely remove all federal funding for clean energy schemes and solutions, and opening up large areas previously unopened to them for oil, coal and gas markets. This will put significant pressure on individual states to continue to fund green energy schemes, block the arrival of big energy companies in their territories, and continue to fulfil the vision of the Clean Power Plan independently. This is something that many states will have neither the desire nor the budget to do, and is the reason why an individual commitment to the use of clean energy matters now more than ever.

A Surge in Green Energy Use
In the light of Donald Trump’s imminent arrival in the Oval Office, The US Energy Information Agency has said that new coal-fired power plants are “not economically competitive with renewables and other generation sources”, with existing facilities soon to come under pressure from clean energy.  Clean energy is easier to produce, renewable, and has negligible impact on the environment. The fact is that under the presidency of Obama, clean energy use in this country has blossomed: With solar capacity up 577% since 2011 and wind energy surging in equally high measures, we are seeing real change in the use of clean energy, as well as in the general public’s use of and attitude towards it. In 2015, 15 states generated at least ten percent of their energy from wind generators, which is a massive increase, and a huge achievement for the sector- this is a figure that is only increasing with each passing year, and one that shows no sign of decline, despite who is currently president.  
Trepidation in The Green Energy Sector
Whilst clean energy companies can insure against bad business decisions, the weather, and all manner of other things, what a company cannot insure against is a President that does not support them. And many working within the sector are apprehensive about what a Trump Presidency will mean for the industry.

However the good news is that the market, as well as many Republicans, actually favor green energy. From a republican point of view, the rise of green energy isn’t just about saving the planet: it is a question of simple economics. As production increases, and the technology behind them continues to improve, turbines and solar panels are plummeting in cost, making them an affordable option for both towns and cities, as well as for energy-conscious individuals that want to generate their own power. Clean energy options make it easier for states to ensure both their state buildings, and low income housing that they support financially, have access to the energy they need at a considerably lower cost.                           

The good news is that whilst federal policy, and federal support, is important, we should not underestimate the value of both state and individual power. Meaning that the impact Trump’s vocal policy decisions have on the industry may well be negligible. State and city legislators are seeing the value of green energy in their own towns and cities on a daily basis: they are also seeing the consequences of climate change and the impact that this is having on their people locally. Whilst President elect Trump may oppose the green energy industry, this doesn’t have to be an obstacle for the sector, provided that individuals continue to support the green energy sector, and encourage their city and state decision makers to do the same.

“Trump inherits robust clean energy movement”, AMI News Wire
“Here’s why the clean energy industry is hopeful about Donald Trump”, Fortune
“A list of America’s fastest growing green energy companies”, Green Tech Media
“Trump’s first 100 days: Climate and Energy”, Scientific American
“Is Renewable Energy Trump-proof?”, Take Part,
“Trump could reverse ‘dramatic’ progress on clean energy, experts fear”, The Guardian
“Republican Party on Energy and Oil”, On the Issues

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