Election 2020: How Will Solar Wolf Energy Adapt to the Next Presidential Term?
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
The stakes have never been higher! Last week, voters across the nation cast their ballots to determine who the next president of the United States would be, after weeks of early and mail-in voting. Presently, Joe Biden has been declared the winner, but a number of recounts and legal challenges in the coming weeks could result in the tide turning towards Trump. Regardless of who wins the election, the next president will play a substantial role in determining the future of America’s clean energy industry. Solar Wolf Energy is preparing strategies to navigate both avenues, regardless of the final outcome. We wanted to present two scenarios to map out how we would respond to either victory.
An incumbent victory would continue to reshape the country’s clean energy landscape. Sitting President Trump has expressed his interest in rolling back environmental protections across the board. These proposals impact both international and national participation in the energy economy. One of the most recent developments from the Trump administration involved pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, an action that many worried would change the global conversation around mitigating climate change. As the world’s second largest producer of carbon emissions, our leadership presence in the Paris climate deal meant we were leading the way forward on the struggle to keep global warming from exceeding 2°C past pre-industrial temperatures. Every developed nation in the world would need to participate in the plan for it to be most effective, so there was serious emphasis on our role in the strategy.
When President Trump initially announced his intention to depart from the climate pact, there was some concern about how the rest of the world would react - would China and other high-production, high-pollution nations follow suit? Fortunately, our global peers decided to stick with the plan and pick up our slack. Our departure from the plan did not result in a mass exodus by others, and international leaders filled the vacuum left by America’s absence. China, for example, has unveiled a plan to make their economy carbon neutral by 2060 by utilizing renewables, nuclear power, and carbon capture and sequestration. The European Union also released a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 through increasing native biodiversity and establishing a climate bank to foster the development of renewable energy projects throughout the region.
Most would agree that pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord set us back on the mission to break away from reliance on fossil fuels, but industry experts say Trump’s approach to environmental policy didn’t do as much damage as they had anticipated. Wood Mackenzie’s principal officer Dan Shreve expressed that while the Trump administration has certainly “done their best to try to prop up fossil fuels... it hasn’t really come [at] the detriment of renewables.” Trump’s plans to prolong the life of the fossil fuel industry also involved dismantling the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replacing it with the less ambitious Affordable Clean Energy Rule, as well as deferring action recommended by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s study on grid interconnection. To the untrained eye, it might appear like President Trump’s goal was to hamper the growth of the renewables industry… But nothing he did was enough to stop coal-fired power plants from going out of business faster than they did in all 8 years of Obama’s presidency. It seems like despite our sitting President’s admiration for fossil fuels, the clean energy wave is unstoppable!
President-Elect Biden, on the other hand, is much warmer to the idea of ditching dirty fuels. With a goal to reach carbon-neutral electricity production by 2035, the Biden administration would implement one of the most ambitious environmental action plans in our nation’s history! While many climate plans set 2040 or 2050 as the zero-carbon deadline, Biden’s strategy was written with help from progressive legislators such as Bernie Sanders, who focus on mitigating the impacts of climate change as swiftly as possible. Such an aggressive deadline might seem insurmountable from our current position, but a recent study from the University of California suggests that not only is this goal reachable - it would cost nothing to consumers and could drive down the wholesale cost of electricity by up to 13%! Introducing new carbon-free building and vehicle production standards would help us reach this goal, as simply adding more renewable energy to the grid alone would not be sufficient. The culmination of new renewable generation goals, energy efficiency and emissions standards could result in 500,000 new jobs added to the labor economy each year from 2020 to 2035! It appears that Biden’s clean power aspirations have accounted for the costs associated with breaking away from traditional fossil fuels, and are planning to counter them.
No matter who is in the White House, renewable energy is the wave of the future and will continue to proliferate. Even if the Commander in Chief prefers to source electricity from dinosaurs over sunshine, clean power will keep gaining popularity among consumers, workers and economists! Whether our roadmap to carbon neutrality is narrow and winding or a direct route, all signs point to a future where fossil fuels are obsolete. Solar Wolf Energy is strapped in and ready for the long haul, no matter which path we take as a nation.