What a Trump presidency might mean for renewable energy

What will a Donald Trump presidency do to the nation’s growing renewable energy presence? The answer is complicated, and mostly unknown, but one thing is certain: the complete dismantling of renewable energy initiatives isn’t likely, and whatever happens won’t happen quickly.

At least that’s the take of Karl Rabago, the executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center in New York. While a Trump presidency could endanger the Clean Power Plan, Rabago argues that a greater renewable energy presence will still be needed, and it will at least remain a goal for the rest of the world, even if Trump’s administration is not on board.

Rabago also said  that many Americans and the states they live in still back renewable energy and are interested in supporting it. But interestingly, when Texas voters were polled around 15 years ago to gather public opinion on renewables, there was one group that was staunchly against it: 55 to 65 year-old white men, the demographic that largely carried Trump to victory on Tuesday.

The declining role of  coal will also likely keep renewables on the table. Despite Trump’s promise to revive the dying coal industry, Rabago said  Trump can’t do much to impact basic economics–coal  can’t compete with natural gas and in some places wind power.

“From an economics perspective, there’s not much a president can do,” Rabago said of the future of coal. “It’s at the end of its life.”

Instead, Rabago said, Trump will have to embrace something that the federal government is already doing,  namely providing economic help to struggling coal communities.