An Unstoppable Trend
After U.S. president Donald Trump decided to pull the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many expected a reduction in the nation's efforts to transition to clean and sustainable energy. That hardly seems the case now, however, as a number of U.S. states and even private institutions have decided to pursue initiatives that reinforce those outlined in the international climate deal.
In “Renewable Energy: What Cheap, Clean Energy Means for Global Utilities,” a report published Thursday by financial services firm Morgan Stanley, analysts confirm that renewable energy is fast becoming the cheapest option.
“Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation,” the report noted. “A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020." The report continued:
By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics, rather than government policy, will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels. For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, we expect the U.S. to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.
A Cheaper, Better Alternative
Indeed, the cost of renewables — particularly solar — has recently decreased significantly, with the price of solar panels dropping by 50 percent in just two years, according to the report. This certainly makes reaching the carbon emission limits set by the historic climate accord much easier, and the increased affordability is helping major polluters like India and China step up their renewable energy efforts.
The impact of renewable energy adoption extends beyond the environment — it also benefits the economy.
Renewables are providing better investment opportunities for utility companies while lowering costs for consumers. "The ability to lower customer bills from utilizing low-cost renewables can improve utilities' regulatory environment and provide related investment opportunities in grid modernization initiatives," the analysts wrote. Aside from this, renewables are also generating more jobs than their fossil fuel counterparts — in the U.S., they account for even more jobs than tech giants Google, Apple, and Facebook combined.
So, despite the U.S. officially withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Morgan Stanley analysts believe that industries in the country will continue to see renewable energy as the more economically attractive and environmentally sound alternative to fossil fuels. Not even politics can stop this trend.