Trump Administration Lags Obama Record for RE Approvals: CAP

A new analysis has revealed that the Trump Administration has approved about half as many wind and solar energy projects as the Obama administration had at the same point.

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress (CAP) has revealed that the Interior Department of the Trump Administration has approved about half as many wind and solar energy projects on federal lands as the Obama administration had at the same point in its first term. The numbers reflecting the administration’s soft-pedalling of renewable energy development while favouring expansion of oil and gas drilling.

Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda aims to reduce regulatory red tape to boost domestic energy production. Drilling for oil and gas on federal lands is a key part of that strategy, though the administration has said it favours an “all of the above” approach to energy.

The CAP analysis, based on federal data, found the Trump administration has approved seven solar projects and one wind project since taking office compared with 15 total wind and solar projects approved under the previous administration in its first 3-1/2 years. Report author Kate Kelly blamed the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that would have required utilities to slash power plant emissions and policies like tariffs on imports of solar panels for some of the slowdown but said they cannot fully explain the decline.

The study also found the administration has failed to hold competitive lease sales for wind and solar energy development despite holding dozens for oil and gas leases during the period. It has also dismantled the Bureau of Land Management’s National Renewable Energy Coordination Office, CAP said, adding that Interior officials have had 10 times as many meetings with oil and gas industry representatives as with solar and wind companies.

While the administration has failed to match the number of approvals, the US solar market is still growing at an exponential pace. Largely on the back of drastic price drops and the breakthrough in technology. We had previously reported that the US solar market installed 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Q1 2020, representing its largest first quarter (Q1) ever in the United States.

The report by SEIA and WoodMac forecasts 33 percent growth in 2020, owing entirely to the strong performance of the utility-scale segment, which is expected to account for more than 14 GW of new installations this year. It further added that record utility-scale procurement totals in 2019 and Q1 2020 positioned the segment for a record year, even as large-scale projects face some construction delays and challenges in financing and developing early-stage projects.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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