Donald Trump’s efforts to breathe life back into his country’s coal industry hasn’t been going very well, but something’s definitely growing in Trump country: solar power is booming, in defiance of the federal administration’s rhetorical and substantive attacks.
Fueled by falling costs, and subsidies that a Republican Congress has refused to cancel before imminent expiry dates, “eight of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. solar markets between the second quarters of 2016 and 2017 were Western, Midwestern, or Southern states that voted for Trump,” Reuters reports, citing data from GTM Research. Deeply pro-Trump Alabama and Mississippi topped the list.
Trump has often scorned renewable energy as “very, very expensive.” His energy secretary recently outlined a proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear generation against other forms of energy production. The U.S. International Trade Commission is weighing crippling tariffs against imported solar components. And EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has mused about cancelling subsidies for solar before they are scheduled to expire in 2020—a step that would require Congressional approval.
Yet, Reuters adds, “solar firms are ramping up investments in these [Trump-friendly] regions, signalling their faith that renewable energy incentives will remain in place for years to come.”