Four more years of Obama - four more years of hope for solar?

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In 2008, on the morning after election day in the US, I sat thousands of miles away from my home in California, in the London offices of PV-Tech. I was basking in the glory of what, at the time, The Guardian newspaper called “the day America became cool again”. Barack Obama had been elected as the next President of the United States, and for the first time in nearly a decade American’s truly believed in the hope and change that our president-elect had promised in his campaign.

Four years have passed quickly and the sense of hope may not be as profound this election as in 2008. But our country has endured and, believe it or not, there are people, myself included, who can truthfully say we are better off today than we were four years ago.

The discussion for both candidates’ platforms this campaign season leaned heavily on the economy. Romney gave stump speeches in front of the closed Solyndra factory in California, calling the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) US$528 million loan guarantees to the company a waste of government money and a failure for the economy by President Obama.

In the infancy of President Obama’s first term, Solyndra was a high-profile solar company. It captured the President’s interest enough to have him tour the facility and use it as a marker of success for other US solar companies in the United States. Of course, what most people remember now is Solyndra’s downfall (although it seems that some forget that the loan guarantee for Solyndra came under the Bush administration).

As the company dissolved, it remained as the face of a solar industry that seemed to be on precarious ground. There is no doubt that the solar industry around the world has been walking a careful line over the past few years. Price pressures, oversupply and decreasing subsidies have been cited by various companies as leading to dropping quarterly revenues and revised yearly projections. But has it all been bad news for the industry since Obama took office?

According to statistics published by the White House, the US has doubled renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008 because of Obama’s investments in clean energy. Further, US dependence on foreign oil is said to be at a 16-year low, helped in part by the DOE’s investments in 30 clean energy projects over the past four years.

The daily news on PV-Tech suggests that even though the solar industry still has some obstacles, projections agree that it is on its way up. Those reports of declining quarterly earnings are counterbalanced by the news of the completion of new solar installations. It is naïve of us only to listen to the good news. We have to understand that the bad and the good come hand in hand.

And so now we look at where we go from here. For his second term, President Obama has outlined plans for his continued championing of renewable energy. His critics have branded him an opponent to coal, but I find it difficult to fault anyone for their belief in clean energy. He has been transparent in stating that he wants to “take control” of the US’s energy future, and, aside from expanding oil and gas production, Obama plans to continue his mission to create “more renewable energy like wind and solar power”.

Obama has realised that investment in domestic clean energy would help create new jobs, which would in turn spur the US economy. The White House says Obama wants to “renew successful bipartisan tax incentives that create American jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign oil”. Further, he plans to permit clean energy projects on public lands that will generate enough renewable energy to power 3 million homes.

We cannot look back today and say that the US did not come out unscathed from these past four years, but then again, the face of the whole world has changed too. And so, this Wednesday after the US election day, as I sit at home in North Carolina, I concede that I may not be filled with the same hope I had in 2008. But I believe this country and industry can pull itself together and come out of these next four years even stronger.

22 September 2021
To commemorate the World Energy Storage Day(WESD) on 22 September, being recognized worldwide, Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is organising the 5th global conference and virtual expo, which will be held virtually on 22 September 2021. WESD is a global movement initiated by various apex trade bodies working to promote and adopt energy storage, e-mobility & green hydrogen technologies for a sustainable future. The forthcoming edition of WESD is expected to attract global participation with an intent to facilitate bi-lateral trade, market development and new research and innovation, which will invite 100+ countries, 100+ regulators & policy makers, 100+ International speakers,1000+ organisations, 100+ partners & exhibitors and 20,000+ global delegates.
28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.

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