Reelecting President Trump would likely end the chance to decarbonize the U.S. power sector within the next 30 years, according to a report today from Wood Mackenzie.
The Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan that aims to decarbonize the grid within 15 years, a decade and a half before Wood Mackenzie’s base case scenario.
Trump, meanwhile, has doubled down on fossil fuels during his first term. The president hammered on that legacy during last week’s Republican National Convention, boasting of his action on pipelines and warning that his opponent would outlaw fracking. (Biden proposed banning it on federal land but not on private land.)
Trump’s affinity for traditional energies stands to hobble climate action, according to the report.
“If Biden’s bid fails, the US will forfeit four more years in the fight against climate change,” said Dan Shreve, research director for Wood Mackenzie, in a statement. “This would dramatically reduce the possibility of eliminating carbon emissions from the region’s power grid before 2050.”
The Biden plan could have “widespread consequences” for the U.S. grid by driving capital investment in renewables and energy storage to some $2.2 trillion by 2035, the report said. In a Biden scenario, battery storage capacity by 2035 could reach roughly 40% of the power capacity of today’s grid and coal-fired power would cease to exist, according to Wood Mackenzie.
A Biden presidency would bring its own challenges. Shreve said the Democrat’s “Build Back Better” commitment represents a “daunting task” that would “turn the power market on its head.”
Potential made-in-America requirements, under Biden, would demand that the power sector dramatically ramp up manufacturing compared with the status quo. Much of the sector currently assembles parts in the U.S. after they are imported from other countries where costs are lower, Shreve said.
According to Wood Mackenzie, solar module supply in the U.S. would grow exponentially under Biden’s plan, from roughly 4.7 gigawatts today to 100 GW annually.
The firm’s researchers also point out that demand for battery supply could rise to 600 gigawatt-hours a year under Biden’s plan compared to 46 GWh today.
If Biden is elected, the response of the oil and gas sector could have broad consequences related to the success of his climate plan.
“Biden’s plan teeters between achievable and aspirational,” Shreve said. “But the backing of energy sector giants could tip the balance and once again establish the US as a leader in the fight against climate change.”
Reprinted from Greenwire with the permission of E&E News. Copyright 2020. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net.