Biden wins US presidency; a victory for renewable energy

Having secured more than the necessary 270 electoral votes, Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R Biden was elected President of the United States on November 7, 2020 – four days after the US election.

According to the Associated Press, Biden received 290 electoral votes while Trump gained 214 electoral votes. Biden received 50.6% of the popular vote compared with 47.7% for Trump.

The protracted contest – which saw a record number of Americans cast ballots by mail or in person in a presidential election – is not yet completed as a number of states have presidential races that are too close to call. For his part, Trump has refused to concede the election and has vowed to fight the result in court.

While Democrats will hold a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, the final makeup of the Senate is not yet clear. On January 5, 2021, Georgia will hold two runoff elections. Democrats would need to win both races to effectively have control of the Senate — with Vice President Kamala D. Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote — while Republicans would retain a narrow advantage by winning at least one.

President-elect Biden will be officially sworn in as the 46th US president on January 20, 2021.

Biden’s triumph spells victory for renewable energy in the United States. Throughout the campaign, Biden emphasized the importance of using renewable technologies such as wind and solar to transition the US to a clean energy economy while reducing carbon emissions.

In a largely bipartisan acceptance speech, Biden pledged to “marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope” in the battle to “save our planet by getting climate under control”.

As Biden will not be officially sworn in until after the new year, the truest indication of how renewable energy will factor into his administration can be gleaned from the president-elect’s energy plan.

Among other measures, Biden will call for the US to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Biden campaigned on the promise that he will sign a series of new executive orders “with unprecedented reach” that go beyond the Obama-Biden Administration.

Biden says he will urge Congress to: establish an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025; make historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation; and incentivize the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.

However, Biden’s latitude for action could be constrained as he requires Senate approval to fund renewable and alternate energy programs. If Republicans retain control of the upper chamber, they will likely restrain Biden’s ability to pursue such programs.

Regarding climate change, Biden says he will recommit the US to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The US formally exited the 189-nation accord, two-and-a-half years after President Trump announced plans to pull out of the world’s most ambitious environmental pact. Biden has said the US could rejoin the Paris accord quickly; as soon as his first day in office.

The President-elect says he will fully integrate climate change into US foreign policy and national security strategies, as well as its approach to trade. His plan calls for numerous climate resilience efforts by developing regional climate resilience plans and work with local universities and national labs, for local access to the most relevant science, data, information, tools, and training.

Doug Pfeister, RCG’s managing director, Americas said, “This is an exciting time for renewable energy in the US. We envision renewables playing a major role in a Biden-Harris administration and we stand ready to assist our clients in the transition to a low carbon economy.”