As the world still ponders over the amount of impact Trump’s negative climate change policies will have on renewables, many experts are coming forward to articulate the limited effect Trump can have. On the plains of West Texas, new wind farms can be built for just $22 a megawatt-hour. In the Arizona and Nevada deserts, solar projects are less than $40 a megawatt-hour. Compare those figures with the U.S. average lifetime cost of $52 for natural gas plants and about $65 for coal.
“We said before the election that whoever is elected president, we would be continuing our efforts to go to a low-carbon fleet and also pursue renewables,” said Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke, the second-largest U.S. utility owner.
In addition to costing, timing will also play a pivotal role in the continued momentum of renewable energies. A solar farm can be erected and fully operational in a matter of months, which is pivotal as the world becomes increasingly dependent on the use of electricity’s, at a faster rate than ever before. In comparison, it takes a number of years to permit, finance and build the giant boilers and exhaust systems found in coal plants.
Perhaps 5 years ago or even less, there was no doubt that subsidies and regulations were the biggest driver of renewable energies. However, over the last 2-3 years, the industry has seen monumental growth, vastly increased competition and ground-breaking R&D, which in turn has led to significant declines in pricing. Therefore, whether or not government bodies like the idea of climate change or not, will have an increasingly minimal bearing on the prosperity of the industry, consumers and companies alike will continue to invest not because the government give it the thumbs up or thumbs down, but simply because it is economically logical.
Trump hasn’t indicated whether he’ll push to repeal the tax credits for wind and solar, which were extended for five years at the end of 2015 with bipartisan support. And the Clean Power Plan, which has been suspended pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2022.
However, it should be noted that in a recent interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump began to retract on his previously firm stance against climate change; saying he has an “open mind” on it, whilst also acknowledging “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.