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How Does President Trump Affect the Global Solar Industry?

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On 9/11, Donald Trump was declared the 45th President of the United States of America. While it is unclear how a Trump Presidency will affect multiple issues like USA’s stand on war, taxes and the economy, his stance on climate change and renewable energy is clear. And it’s not looking good.

  • Donald Trump has famously called climate change a “Chinese Hoax”. He has effecively denied what 99% of scientists have proven.

 

  • Donald Trump has selected Myron Ebell, a climate change sceptic, to lead the EPA– America’s Environment Protection Agency transition. We shudder to think what sort of recruitments and policies a climate change sceptic will drive.

 

  • Trump has said he wants to repeal all federal spending on clean energy, including R&D for solar and electric vehicles. Now that the Republics hold majority in US House and Senate, it will be easy for President Trump to pass bills which will curb much needed expenditure on renewable energy and solar power. This will essentially mean lower funding for research on higher efficiency solar panels and more effective storage solutions. 

 

  • Trump has said he wants to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal. While on paper the US may continue to subscribe to the Climate Deal, under President Trump no real progress will be made on reducing emissions, hence less expenditure on clean energy like solar power.

Bottomline for USA: Lower spending on R&D for Solar and storage solutions may mean delay of introduction of improved technologies. Weakened policy may slow down adoption of solar power.

We have observed how solar power has grown by three times during Obama’s presidency, primarily due to a supportive environment and policies such tax breaks for solar. In India we have seen how a supportive government has galvanized the growth of an entirely new industry with solar. This has attracted new jobs and businesses. From China’s example too, we saw how introduction of policies such as FIT for solar caused a sharp up-tick in manufacturing capacities and reduction in the prices of solar globally- which in turn increased the adoption of solar. Thus positive policy in any one superpower has a huge impact on such a new industry as solar.

Sadly, however, our prediction is that the solar industry in USA will lose its momentum over the next four years. Other countries such as India, China and Germany will have to do their bit by spending more on R&D for solar to compensate for this slowdown.

Kanika Khanna

Kanika is passionate about data and technology- and writes about how they apply to roof-top solar.

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