The Future Looks Bright For Renewables In 2017

4 min read

By Michael  Isle

Manager - Power, Renewables, Technology, Chemicals

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has mentioned that he is unsure of the impact of human activity on climate change and he has promised to revive the U.S. coal industry by cutting regulation. This has led to some uncertainty in the energy sector in light of his recent victory. But if we take a closer look, it's clear to see that positive moves are in fact underway with the new administration.

At the close of 2015, energy advocates agreed to lift the 40-year old export embargo on U.S. oil in exchange for an extra five years of tax credit support for solar and wind energy. Essentially this means that until 2020 these tax credits are locked in to US policy so for the next 5 years renewable energy will benefit, regardless of what may be happening politically.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration renewable capacity is expected to grow more than 4% a year until 2040 as a result of the Clean Power Plan which is similarly locked into place.

Onshore wind is already cost-competitive with natural gas in the U.S, and solar costs are falling rapidly which is naturally raising interest in solar power across the board. Considering the Trump administration’s spotlight on job creation and favourable profit-margins, renewable energy does not run contrary to their aims.  

Looking forward, oil and gas companies will need to keep finding innovative ways to reduce emissions and environmental footprints and to hold the trust of the public in order to remain competitive. The election may have had a positive effect in capturing the public imagination and forcing people to confront their personal impact on the environment so it will be interesting to see what happens when the dust begins to settle. 

Since the election, Trump went on record with the New York Times stating:

Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important."

Trump’s focus then appears to be job generation in the energy sector, as he went on to mention that the US is not a competitive nation and he will be “studying very hard” to isolate and hopefully eliminate the causes.

While pulling back regulations may not be the answer, if the Trump administration can find a way to source clean, safe energy whilst creating jobs and growth in the market then the next four years will be a step in the right direction.

EIA released a report indicating a bright year ahead in 2017. They estimate that the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas will average 34%, and the share from coal will average 30%. Last year, both fuels supplied about 33% together. In 2017, natural gas and coal are forecast to generate about 33% and 31% of electricity, as natural gas prices are forecast to increase.

Nonhydropower renewables are forecast to generate 9% of electricity generation in 2017, up 1% from this year. Generation shares of nuclear and hydropower are forecast to be relatively unchanged from 2016 to 2017.

Coal production is forecasted to increase by 3% in 2017.

Wind energy capacity at the end of 2015 was 72 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects that 8 GW of capacity will be added in 2016 and 9 GW in 2017. These additions would bring total wind capacity to 89 GW by the end of 2017.

Many businesses are expanding their organisations to cope with the increased demand this growth is expected to generate. As the Christmas period approaches, many excellent candidates enter the market looking for a fresh start. If you want to get a head start on hiring for the New Year, contact us at clients@csgtalent.com.