Monday, June 05, 2017

Can U.S. Clean Energy Still Lead After Trump's Paris Gambit?

2President Trump announced in the White House Rose Garden last week that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. (Credit: @WhiteHouse/Twitter) Click to Enlarge.
When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement last week, his critics said he effectively abandoned U.S. efforts to be the world's leading developer of clean energy technology.

Clean energy is already a bona-fide global industry, one that drew $349 billion in new investment in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  Technologies such as conventional wind turbines and rooftop solar panels have established leaders and supply chains.  But other technologies remain up for grabs, such as high-capacity energy storage, while a longer list of cutting-edge but far-fetched energy technologies compete for the money, time and space to develop.

"The United States will continue to be actively engaged in the development of global energy and the world leader in the development of next-generation technology," Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday.

So if the United States completes its exit from the Paris climate accord, where would that leave it?

Could it still hope to be a leader in terms of deployment, jobs or intellectual property?  Or would it watch those go to China and Europe, as Trump's critics suggest?

We asked Energywire's beat reporters whose claims pass muster.

Energy storage
Energy storage is a hot new industry, and America has become its innovation engine — creating some of the best new products, software and business models that are starting to make energy storage a moneymaker.

Less stellar has been our record at holding on to that innovation edge.  In the last few years, U.S. startups have been snapped up by foreign buyers, especially from Europe, where the big energy companies seem to grasp the market potential of energy storage better than America's do (Energywire, March 20).

Some speculate that Trump's yanking the United States out of the Paris Agreement will cause other countries to view U.S. energy companies with the same skeptical filter they apply to Trump.

"Pulling out of the Paris Agreement will bias foreign governments against U.S. firms, making it harder for American companies to sell their expertise around the world," said Jigar Shah, a storied U.S. solar entrepreneur.

But those countries are also probably savvy enough to know that American business and the American government are not necessarily the same thing, especially when it comes to climate policy in the Trump era (Energywire, June 2). — David Ferris

Read more at Can U.S. Clean Energy Still Lead After Trump's Paris Gambit?

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