USA, renewables will prevail

USA, renewables will prevail

Simona Manna
Although Trump's administration is more oriented towards oil and coal, alternative energy will gain increasingly more ground in the U.S. energy mix. According to the U.S. EIA, in the coming thirty years, green energy will drive an increase in global energy production in the U.S.

With Trump’s establishment at the White House, it is almost for sure that green energy, or energy produced from renewable sources, will no longer be of interest to the United States. On the other hand, soon after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, on the White House’s website, the pages specifically dedicated to climate change had been removed and replaced by the American First Energy Plan, a plan expressing the new administration’s position on energy, climate change and the environment. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Annual Energy Outlook 2017, however, show that the production of renewable energy over the next 30 years will grow, driving an increase in global energy production in the U.S.

Renewable energy figures

According to the U.S. EIA, which presented the Outlook at the beginning of this year, ''total energy production will grow by over 20% from 2016 to 2040, driven by an increased production of renewables, natural gas and oil''. Specifically, as stated in the report, according to the reference scenario, a new wind and photovoltaic capacity of almost 70 gigawatts (GW) is expected over the course of the years from 2017 to 2021, encouraged by lower capital costs and the availability of Investment Tax Credit. Moreover, after 2030, growth in production will be mainly divided between solar power and natural gas, with a solar power capacity accounting for over 50% of new increases in capacity, still within the reference scenario, between 2030 and 2040. All this, according to the U.S. EIA, will take place even if Trump does not implement Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

USA: net exporter by 2030

It is mainly solar power that supports the forecasts of the U.S. EIA, according to which the United States could become an energy exporting country by 2030. According to the Annual Energy Outlook data, net energy imports in the United States are expected to decline gradually between 2020 and 2030, until they stop completely. Adam Sieminski, administrator at the Energy Information Administration, explained, while presenting the Outlook, that ''the United States has been a net energy importer since 1950. The future scenario, with the continuous growth in oil and natural gas production, the increased use of renewable sources and the implementation of efficiency in demand, however, indicates the possibility of eliminating net energy imports from the country over a period of time, from between 2020 and 2030''. An increase is in fact expected in the production of natural gas, currently the most important energy resource for transitioning towards a low-carbon future, amounting to 1.2% per year. According to Sieminski, ''if the Clean Power Plan is not implemented, if natural gas prices remain low and if tax incentives in the renewable energy industry are not reduced, in the future we will see more natural gas''.

The future of polluting emissions

In any case, the United States will continue to pollute as always over the coming thirty years. The forecast, according to EIA data, is that annual CO2 emissions related to energy use will indicatively remain at current levels, at approximately 5.2 billion tons of CO2. The decline in polluting emissions related to the use of energy from 2005 to 2016 was, on average, 1.4% each year, while from 2016 to 2040 a decline of 0.2% per year is expected (reference scenario).