'Radically different vision': Wind industry reacts to Biden win

Key industry voices offer reactions as US president-elect Joe Biden pushes forward with plans for office

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris lead the celebrations (Pic: Twitter/@KamalaHarris).

The wind industry has reacted with widespread positivity as US president-elect Joe Biden began to outline the priorities of his transition plan after he was called as the winner by US media networks on Saturday.

According to reports, among executive orders aimed at reversing a number of Donald Trump’s policies, one will see the US rejoin the Paris climate agreement — the country officially left last week.

Reacting to the win, energy and renewables consultancy group Wood Mackenzie said that the Biden administration will offer a “radically different vision” of energy policy from the Trump administration, one that will be focused on addressing the threat of climate change.

Biden will enter the White House aiming to reset America back on a course to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

But, as WoodMac warned, it seems likely that Republicans will retain control of the Senate, limiting Biden’s power to deliver on his agenda.

It means the federal government will be constrained, so state policies will remain important for wind and the energy sector more widely.

The key influences shaping the US energy industry are likely to be market forces, just as they were under Barack Obama and Donald Trump, WoodMac analysts said.

  • US bill targets 25GW of offshore wind by 2030

  • According to Ed Crooks, Wood Mackenzie vice-chair for the Americas, the Biden administration will be a boost for offshore wind.

    A statement from the group said: “The Trump administration has slowed the process of approving offshore wind and proposed to close off a section of the US Atlantic coast from Florida to Virginia.

    “A Biden administration will act faster to support states and companies seeking to develop offshore wind industries.”

    Offshore prospects

    The Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW) said the Biden climate plan promises to usher in a “significant focus back on all renewable energy strategies including offshore wind”.

    The president-elect will bring about substantial growth from projects, supply chain development and job creation for offshore wind, BNOW said.

    And Biden will look to level the playing field with tax policies for clean energy technologies. BNOW said it hopes for a multi-year extension of tax credits for all renewables projects and complimentary standalone battery storage.

    This could easily be achieved by scrapping the country’s substantial fossil-fuel subsidies.

    Liz Burdock, chief executive of BNOW said: “The American electorate voted for a future that focuses on climate change solutions, re-engages on the international stage, and commits to addressing racial and social inequity across our nation.

    “The election of president-elect Joe Biden puts the offshore wind energy industry on the precipice of substantial growth with the support of an administration that promises to put significant focus back on renewable energy, [with] offshore wind among the beneficiaries.”

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)  moved to congratulation Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris, saying it looked forward to collaborating with his administration and Congress to “shape a cleaner and more prosperous energy future” for America.

    CEO Tom Kiernan said: “The US wind sector and its growing workforce of over 120,000 Americans stand ready to help put that plan into action and support the Biden administration in delivering on the immense promise of renewable energy to add well-paying jobs to the US economy and reach the president-elect’s 100% target for a carbon-free America by the middle of this century.”

    The Biden climate plan

    • Sets goals and highlights several offshore wind opportunity areas
    • Re-engages with the international community by re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement
    • Clean energy revolution —100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, with the US energy mix at 100% clean by 2035, up from 38% at present
    • Biden plan to cut all fossil-fuel subsidies and redirect investment to clean energy infrastructure 
    • New fuel economy standards to ensure that 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles are electrified. 
    • Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C), which will focus on strategies including using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen; CCUS of exhaust from power plants; and decarbonisation of the steel, concrete and chemicals production.