US election results: Moving green energy forwards?
Followers of the US election campaign could be forgiven for believing that climate change was a relatively minor issue facing world leaders.
Over the past few weeks neither the Republican nor Democratic candidates have hardly uttered a word as to how their government would approach environmental issues such as renewable energy or global warming, with core energy policies instead focusing on the economy and the rising costs of living. With Barack Obama now settled back in to the Whitehouse, how is his second term as President likely to affect the renewable energy market in the USA?
Upon the announcement of Obama’s landslide victory over Republican candidate Mitt Romney, renewable energy developers and green campaigners alike sighed in relief. Over the past 4 years renewable energy in the US has more than doubled, not only dramatically reducing the country’s carbon footprint but also providing sustainable work for hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans.
President Obama’s re-appointment now paves the way for the eagerly anticipated “All of the Above” energy strategy, which aims to free the US from its reliance on foreign oil supplies by taking advantage of their own energy resources including wind, solar and biofuel.
Green groups predict initial efforts to focus on extending the wind energy tax credit (due to expire in January 2013) and increasing regulation of greenhouse gas emissions through the Environmental Protection Agency.
This all-encompassing energy policy could however equally limit the growth of the renewable energy sector, with plans to allocate significant resources to the widespread use of hydraulic gas fracturing (fracking) in order to take advantage of the current overabundance of natural gas in the USA.
Sceptics are also dubious as to how Obama will approach major change to renewable energy policy as he faces another four years of battling against a Republican heavy House of Representatives as well as newly introduced State mandates giving each individual state power over their own energy policies.
Fortunately however, it’s not all doom and gloom with economists predicting significant growth in the industry as a direct result of a dramatic drop in costs associated with solar PV and wind power developments.
Ultimately, only time will tell so we’re looking forward to seeing how policy unfolds over the next four years.