Under Trump, U.S. less attractive for renewable energy investment

A thick cloud of fog and morning light engulfs wind turbines at the BP Sherbino Mesa II Wind Farm in southwest Texas. ( Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle )

The Trump administration’s plans to dismantle the Clean Power Plan and its waffling on the Paris climate accords could push renewable energy investors away from the United States, according to a report released this week from the London-based accounting firm Ernst and Young.

Every year, the firm ranks countries on its Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, which examines a country’s need for renewable energy, government incentives, natural resources and government policy to determine its potential for renewable energy growth.  Last year, the U.S. topped the firm’s list of potential renewable energy growth following the extension of the wind production tax credit.

But this year’s index shows that the U.S. has fallen behind China and India, as investors worry that the Trump administration will abolish federal clean energy incentives and tax credits, according to the report.

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The report also acknowledged that President Donald Trump has yet to follow through on many of his campaign promises to boost the fossil fuel energy. For instance, Trump has not said whether he intends to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accords, an agreement by nearly 200 countries to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Trump has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he will not challenge a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that must be regulated.

Even Trump’s plans to rescue the flagging coal industry might be held in check by economics that favor cleaner-burning energy sources, like natural gas, the report said.

“Despite Trump’s promise to put coal miners back to work, energy market economics suggest that natural gas and renewables will continue to deliver the bulk of new power market capacity,” the report said.