President-elect Donald Trump has only vaguely defined his plans for energy policy, via his website and campaign statements and tweets. As a result, one can only speculate what changes to expect from Trump energy policies.
Nevertheless, a recent report by S&P Global Platts aimed to predict how electricity will be generated under Trump energy policies. The analysis assumed Trump would allow subsidies for renewable energy to continue their scheduled scale down through 2020, and enact no new policies to support wind or solar. This is consistent with recent reporting indicating that Trump does not plan to act against renewable energy tax credits. Platts also assumed Trump will follow through on his vow to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Even without the CPP or new federal policies, Platts projects wind and solar will continue to gain market share. Renewables are expected to reach 21 percent of power generation by 2027, propelled by falling prices, existing tax credits and state policies supporting renewable energy. Utilities are expected to retire a significant portion of coal generation capacity, as coal struggles to compete with natural gas and renewables. Despite Trump’s vow to bring back coal jobs, it is unclear how he would avert closures of uncompetitive coal plants, most of which are over 40 years old.
This new administration comes at a pivotal time for both national and global efforts to address climate change. Climate negotiations are currently underway in Morocco to flesh out details of how Paris Agreement commitments will be achieved. So far, countries such as China have reaffirmed their resolve to act on climate, despite Trump’s vow to renegotiate the Paris Agreement and his claims that climate change is a “hoax.” Nevertheless, the decisions of the next administration will reverberate across energy and climate policies both nationally and globally long after President-elect Trump leaves office.