By Paul Homewood

Joe Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion on clean energy in first term

US presidential hopeful Joe Biden has set out a $2 trillion spending plan for clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, pledging to install 500 million solar panels and achieve net zero carbon emissions in the power sector by 2035.

The Democratic nominee has pledged to spend the $2 trillion in his first term, far faster than previously proposed.

Biden proposes to reform and extend tax incentives that support clean energy and implement a technology-neutral „Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES)“ for utilities and grid operators.

Biden’s team plans to „dramatically expand“ solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems, including 8 million solar roofs and community solar systems and 60,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines.

Joe Biden is planning to spend big on wind and solar power, as he aims to completely decarbonise electricity generation by 2035. It’s a tall order, given that wind and solar only account for 9% at the moment:

BP Energy Review

Naturally the renewable sector is rubbing its hands in glee, as they scent their share of that $2 trillion:

As President Joe Biden begins his first term in office, one of his administration’s top concerns will be ramping up green energy initiatives. And the renewable energy industry, from offshore wind to electric vehicles, is getting ready for a White House that’s more open to them.

Renewable energy is already a massive industry — by 2025, it’s estimated that the sector will be worth over $1.5 trillion globally. Companies like NextEra, Albemarle, and Vineyard Wind have already grown significantly in recent years. And since Biden became president-elect, renewable energy stocks have soared. 

Under President Trump, renewable energy took a backseat in favor of the fossil fuel industry. According to Trump, renewable energy was too expensive and bad for the country’s existing factories, despite the fact that oil and gas giants have been moving towards renewable energy for years in a bid to diversify in the growing market.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has big plans for renewable energy. In a $2 trillion proposal, Biden wants electricity to go carbon-free by 2035, and for the country to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Experts predict a handful of strategies Biden will use: cutting back on coal use, phasing out old utility plants, and expanding wind and solar power.

Arguably the country’s biggest renewable energy giant, NextEra Energy, is primed for the Biden administration. The century-old company took an early stake in wind power and managed to grow its profits under Trump, making it the biggest investor-owned generator of wind and solar power. In October, NextEra briefly surpassed the biggest energy company, Exxon Mobil, in market capitalization.

One of NextEra’s growth strategies relies on taking advantage of federal tax credits — it’s amassed $3.1 billion since 2010. Under President Biden, those federal incentives are likely to expand. NextEra plans to continue its path to dominance in wind and solar energy through lobbying, a strategy that worked wonders under Trump. In 2019 alone, it spent $4.1 million on lobbying federal lawmakers, according to Bloomberg. With the new administration and democrats in control of both houses of Congress, NextEra may not need to work so hard to persuade lawmakers to advocate for green energy.

But what evidence is there that the US can run its grid without fossil fuels? Hydro is tiny, and nuclear seems to be getting phased out everywhere, which just leaves wind and solar.

There is a naive assumption that the wind is always blowing somewhere in the country, so there is ample to go round.

Sadly wind power is still horridly variable, even across the US as a whole, commonly ranging from between 500 and 1500 GWh a day.

Solar power is little better, even if you could store enough to cover peaks and troughs each day. Last month, it ranged from just over 100 GWh to over 200 GWh a day.

Just as significantly, January solar output is about half that of June:

Biden’s plan to install 500 million solar panels, is equivalent to 125 GW, assuming 250 watt panels. Current capacity is about 71 GW, so solar output would still remain tiny, which suggests his main target is to massively increase wind power.

Sleepwalking towards disaster would be putting it mildly!


February 25, 2021 at 08:24AM