US Elections effect on the pace of the energy transition

The US appears headed for a clean energy future regardless of who sits in the White House. But the pace of the energy transition – and presumably the severity of ensuing climate change impacts – could look dramatically different depending on the victor of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The combative presidential campaigns have put Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden square in the clean energy camp, with President Donald Trump making the case for the country’s abundant fossil fuel resources.

The energy transition underway has already taken its toll on the coal industry. More than 41.5 GW of coal-fired generation has been retired during the Trump administration, while nearly 46 GW of wind and solar projects have come online in that same time frame from 2017 to mid-2020, according to data compiled by S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Platts Analytics’ expectations for the next few years include a brief rebound in coal and pullback in natural gas, while renewable generation continues to march upwards. But by 2030, coal’s current 21% share of the generation mix would be closer to 5%, under a reference case that assumes a federal carbon price starting in 2026. Wind and solar generation in that scenario is seen increasing from 11% of the generation mix in 2020 to 30% in 2030.

So, neither candidate appears to have any choice but to ride the energy transition train, just as the power sector will have to adjust to whether Biden is hitting the accelerator or Trump is pumping the brakes.

Read how the election of either US presidential candidate will effect the pace of the US energy transition.

Learn more

Read more on the US Elections