US election: solar, renewable and climate advocates cool on Trump win

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The confirmation this morning that Donald Trump has become the 45th President of the U.S. sent a seismic jolt through leading liberal channels, with shock and disbelief the overriding reaction.

If June’s Brexit decision could politely be described as a surprise, today’s victory for Trump was met with a stultifying daze as Europe awoke to the news that many around the world had feared.

And while opposition to his ascension to the presidency was vocal among climate advocates and environmentalists, a smattering of those operating in the global solar industry responded in a more soberly and dispassionate fashion.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) head of solar Jenny Chase told pv magazine that, from a global perspective, the U.S. just is not that important to many international solar companies any more, and with solar’s costs continuing to fall, "even Trump voters can see the benefits [of PV]".

"It is possible that this election will lead to more trade barriers against Asian solar companies, or tightening of the current trade barriers to exclude modules made in factories set up in south-east Asia to dodge them," said Chase. "That assumes a coherence to the narrative that we have not yet seen from Trump. And trade law is really boring, so he might leave it alone."

Chase also suggested that while Trump is likely to be unhelpful for the climate in general, his tenure may not specifically be bad for U.S. solar installations.

"There is a chance that with the backing of the now Republican House and Senate, Trump will cancel the federal Investment Tax Credit, but that would not be the end of the solar industry in the U.S.

"Cutting the corporate tax rate might reduce tax equity available for investment, but the industry has always survived that before," Chase stressed.

"The patchwork of net metering incentives, state by state, is in flux, but solar often has bipartisan support at the state level." Chase pointed to the decision last night that saw Florida vote No to Amendment 1 as evidence that support for solar remains strong in many states – even Republican ones – across the country.

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