Though the Trump Administration has made its love affair with fossil fuels quite clear, the U.S. private sector has turned the renewable energy business into a booming one. Whether it’s through investment in promising technologies or powering stores and warehouses using clean energy, corporations are turning to low-carbon portfolios on a large scale. Starbucks, for instance, partnered with LevelTen Energy to produce enough wind and solar power to supply 3,000 of its coffee shops with clean electricity.
According to Fortune, there are a myriad of reasons that companies are putting their confidence in renewable energy: “low cost of renewable energy, expanded requirements that states derive a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources, increased demand from corporations, the potential for new carbon legislation, and a desire to benefit from sunsetting tax credits.”
Last year, the American Council on Renewable Energy launched a campaign to promote $1 trillion dollars of U.S. private sector investment in renewable energy by 2030. So far, the effort seems to be off to a good start, with $57 billion of private sector investments towards renewable energy and enabling grid technologies in 2018.
The projections after 2022 are less certain. Energy storage, for instance, is not quite as advanced as experts wish and presents challenges in developing cutting-edge renewable technology.
Policy is an obvious problem in the current political climate. California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, and, most recently, New York have all pledged themselves to 100% renewable or carbon-free goals, but there have been some pretty hefty environmental defeats at the federal level. See: pulling out of the Paris Agreement, approving construction of oil pipelines, and hiring an EPA Administrator that doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to climate change.
Still, a few federal legislative proposals make the scene seem a little less bleak. Fortune cites “a new tax credit for energy storage to help modernize the grid, ambitious national renewable and clean energy standards to expand the progress being made in the states, a federal price on carbon emissions to account for the true financial cost of greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, and a technology-neutral tax credit for carbon-free electricity generation.”