Bloomberg New Energy Finance:
President Donald Trump’s signing last Tuesday of an Executive Order to effectively nullify the U.S. Clean Power Plan signals the new administration’s support for the coal industry and intention to turns its back on Obama-era climate change efforts. However, the move “won’t derail U.S. decarbonization” due to the plummeting cost of renewable energy and the decreasing profitability of coal power, according to BNEF.
While repealing the bill is deeply symbolic, and spells concern that the U.S. may pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement altogether, it will likely have little impact on the U.S. renewable energy industry. The cost of wind and solar farms has dropped significantly in recent years, to the extent that these technologies can now compete with fossil fuel plants on price. Energy generated from the sun and wind accounted for more than half of the new capacity added to U.S. grids in the past two years. In addition, the low price of natural gas is driving down the price of electricity and forcing record numbers of aging coal plants to close.
Crucially, the federal tax credits for wind and solar power, coupled with state laws requiring that utilities source a certain portion of their electricity from renewables, play an important role in fueling the growth of the industry.
“As long as you have the tax credits, you should continue to see solid growth of renewables over the next three to four years,” Ethan Zindler, a senior BNEF analyst in Washington, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Even without the Clean Power Plan, BNEF forecasts that wind and solar energy will grow by some 51% in the U.S. over the next three years. Among the plethora of clean energy deals struck in the past week was $59.8 million in loans arranged by GCL New Energy Holdings for an 84.5-megawatt portfolio of solar projects in North Carolina, and First Solar’s sale of a 250MW solar PV plant in Nevada to a unit of Capital Dynamics, the Swiss asset manager.
(Subscription): U.S. Renewable Energy Won’t be Derailed on Ending of Clean Power Plan