How to Buy
          8 min. read
          Windmils, wind energy, clean energy in the US

          U.S. Election Risk, Green Expectations for 2024

          Environmental Impact

          Written by: Rahul Bhushan

          Published: 12 January 2024

          Close

          Key takeaways

          Despite political divides, bipartisan groups are actively investing in wind and solar energy, showcasing a collective commitment to renewable energy for economic growth.

          Although red states have opposed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), they stand to benefit the most from its clean energy investment, driven by strong existing renewable energy potential and economic opportunities.

          Clean energy investments are therefore resilient to political changes due to economic appeal and a shared focus on 'Energy Security', ensuring continued growth and support regardless of the election outcome.

          Introduction

          Over the past five years, environmental equities have weathered a complex array of headwinds: the Trump presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, an unprecedented rate-hiking cycle and renewed Middle Eastern tensions.

          These equities have also withstood challenges including global supply chain disruptions and volatile costs for critical materials such as rare earth metals and lithium, vital for renewable energy technologies. They have managed to navigate a shifting regulatory landscape across various countries, dealing with intricate and evolving policies related to clean energy incentives and carbon emissions.

          Furthermore, environmental equities have managed to maintain stability amidst varying public sentiment around the energy transition, ranging from strong support to skepticism, which mirrors the diverse global stance on climate change and energy policy. This steadfastness not only underscores the sector’s general resilience, but also highlights its significant role in the global economy’s gradual shift towards sustainability.

          In this article, we will delve into the clean energy sector’s sustained growth, a secular megatrend underpinned by market demand, technological progress and global commitments to sustainability. Additionally, we examine the increasing bipartisan support for renewable energy, a factor that tempers the likelihood of significant policy shifts post-elections.

          USA clean energy, wind power

          How bipartisan is support for clean energy?

          It’s unsurprising that the U.S. exhibits a notable divide on environmental concerns, as Pew survey data shows a stark contrast:

          88% of Democrats feel distressed about Earth’s condition, versus only 50% of Republicans, with fewer still feeling anxious or motivated to address climate change.1

          Despite this, the partisan gap hasn’t stymied clean energy investments. Republican states are actively pursuing wind and solar power. This following analysis examines wind and solar generation across the U.S., using data from the Energy Information Administration and Ember Climate and incorporates key insights from Hannah Ritchie from Our World In Data.2

          Red states are the largest producers of wind power

          In 2022, the top five states leading in wind power generation were predominantly Republican, as indicated in the accompanying chart. The following chart uses colour coding to distinguish the political leanings of each state: red for Republican, blue for Democratic and grey for swing states.

          US share of electricity generation from wind

           

          Examining the total output of wind power reveals a similar trend. The next chart below displays the top 10 states based on their wind power generation. Texas, significantly ahead of others, tops this list. Following Texas, the next three leading states—Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas—are all Republican. Notably, approximately 70% of U.S. wind power is produced in states that are politically red.3

           

           

          Republican states show less enthusiasm for solar, but are not against it

          Moving to solar power, the trend among Republican states is subtly different. Although they are less active in solar than in wind, they are still significantly engaged. California leads in solar power generation, but Texas, typically a Republican stronghold, ranks second. Florida and North Carolina, also red states, feature prominently in the top five. Notably, red states accounted for one-third of the U.S.’s total solar output in 2022.4

          US States electricity generation from solar PV

          Republicans like energy security, even if they (may) care less about climate security

          This data suggests that Republican states are progressively adopting clean energy, with economic considerations possibly playing a more significant role than climate change concerns. Their geographic position in the U.S. “Wind Belt” provides them with abundant wind and solar resources, leading to high capacity factors and appealing investment returns.5 For landowners, clean energy offers a profitable venture, yielding steady income while minimally impacting their farming operations. This stability is particularly attractive compared to the uncertainties of farming, often prone to inconsistent yields due to varying weather conditions and poor harvests. The economic allure of wind and solar energy seems to be a key driver in its uptake in these areas, suggesting a more pragmatic stance towards renewable energy development than one might initially anticipate.

          Many red states lie in the wind belt, with high wind speeds

          However, the shift towards clean energy in Republican states isn’t exclusively driven by market dynamics. Policy considerations also play a critical role. Firstly, the speed of renewable project development is significantly influenced by regulations and building restrictions, areas where red states often have an advantage. Secondly and somewhat ironically, these states have been major beneficiaries of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), despite their political leanings.6

           

          Anticipated impact of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on red and blue states

          Currently, GOP-led states stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of President Joe Biden’s signature climate law, despite not a single Republican voting for it.

          The Financial Times noted in September 2023 that around 80% of identified clean-tech and semiconductor investments had in the first year of the IRA been announced in red states or states with broad Republican constituencies—most of them in South Carolina and Georgia, followed by Michigan and Ohio.7

          Indeed, according to White House estimates, red states are set to attract some $USD 337 billion in investments for large solar, wind and storage projects through the end of this decade, thanks to the IRA. Meanwhile, states led by Democrats, are set to draw about $USD 183 billion.

          Solar power, USA Inflation Reduction Act

          And here’s why

          The IRA’s climate section clearly and strongly supports states with proven solar and wind potential and a track record of successful utilisation. Despite resistance to clean energy in certain regions, these states are nevertheless leading in solar and wind development.

          We’ve seen Republicans soften their opposition to climate change. So we could see a fading of their default support for fossil fuels and default opposition to renewables as a result of the IRA.

          – Timothy Fox, analyst at research firm ClearView Energy Partners

          Texas, the foremost wind energy producer, is anticipated to attract an estimated $USD 66.5 billion in investments, surpassing all other states according to White House estimates.8 Florida, although currently trailing behind six states in renewable energy production, ranks second with a projected $USD 62.7 billion. Iowa, known for its wind energy prowess, follows closely with an estimated $USD 24.6 billion.9

          Among the blue states, New York leads with an expected $USD 34 billion in clean energy investments, followed by California with $USD 21.2 billion, as reported by the White House. Illinois secures the third position.10

          The regions in the Midwest and southern U.S. have become significant hubs for cleantech factories, earning them the moniker “Battery Belt”.11 Georgia, traditionally a red state with recent Democratic gains, is emerging as a frontrunner as both Republican and Democratic leaders actively promote solar, electric vehicle and battery manufacturing. They are keen to align themselves with the burgeoning industries, particularly in terms of job creation, that were once primarily championed by progressives and climate advocates.

          Ohio’s situation is also notable. Despite its rightward shift over the past decade, the state has become a magnet for solar developers, even as it has implemented measures making it more challenging to establish renewable energy projects. Ohio currently ranks as one of the most vibrant markets for new solar farms.

          Additionally, Texas is poised to surpass California, a trailblazer in solar power, as the nation’s largest producer of solar energy from large-scale farms.

          The central point is that championing environmental causes is not a prerequisite for recognising the significance and value of local energy investments. Consequently, support for local energy investment has remained robust, even within conservative circles. This support is primarily driven by the economic opportunities it generates, job growth potential and the capacity of these investments to reinvigorate American industry.

          The experience of environmental equities during the 2016-2020 Trump era

          We can also take a closer look at how, during Trump’s presidency from 2016 to 2020, remarkable shifts occurred in the energy landscape, despite his climate skepticism:

            1. US solar panel production surged by an astounding 110%.12
            2. US installed wind capacity doubled, climbing from 4.6% to 9%.13
            3. Battery pack production costs plummeted by a remarkable 89%, catalysing the expansion of solar and wind technologies.14

          These achievements in clean energy did not happen because of Trump’s presidency, but rather in spite of it. This underscores a crucial point: the dynamic interplay of market forces and technological advancements proved too formidable to impede the march of renewable energy. The market has acknowledged that the energy transition is inevitable, with fossil fuels destined for obsolescence.

          Global renewable capacity additions, 2015 - 2023

          Conclusion

          In light of our analysis, we believe the risk associated with the US election outcome in November is likely to be minimal. This conclusion is underpinned by the bipartisan recognition of the economic advantages stemming from investments in solar, wind and batteries, even within Republican-leaning states.

          Furthermore, we note that the IRA transcends its role as an ‘Energy Transition’ bill, aligning with the ‘American First’ agenda, a compelling factor for Republicans, substantiated by empirical data.

          Our assessment also indicates that investors are primarily going to be motivated by the pursuit of investment returns from renewable investments, regardless of their geographic location or political alignment of the state in which they investment is occurring. This, we believe, underscores an enduring appeal of renewable energy investments for capital allocators.

          Finally, it’s crucial to note that ‘Energy Security’ has resonated broadly across the political spectrum, unlike the narrower appeal of ‘Climate Security.’ This resonance can be attributed to the universal impact of rising energy prices on individuals, transcending political lines and this trend has become more pronounced over the past two years as global events, such as conflicts, have challenged our perceptions of security.

          References

          1

          Pew Science, “How Americans View Future Harms From Climate Change in Their Community and Around the U.S.”, October 2023. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2023/10/25/how-americans-view-future-harms-from-climate-change-in-their-community-and-around-the-u-s/?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

          2

          Substack: Sustainability by numbers, “Republican states are going strong on solar and wind, but not for the climate”, January 2024. Available at : https://www.sustainabilitybynumbers.com/p/red-states-renewables?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

          3

          The Guardian, “Red states leading the US in solar and wind production, new report shows”, February 2023. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/26/red-states-lead-usa-renewable-energy-wind-solar-power

          4

          Substack: Sustainability by numbers, “Republican states are going strong on solar and wind, but not for the climate”, January 2024. Available at : https://www.sustainabilitybynumbers.com/p/red-states-renewables?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

          5

          Ars Technica, “In the US, wind power is getting bigger and better, report says”, August 2021. Available at: https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/08/in-the-us-wind-power-is-getting-bigger-and-better-report-says/

          6

          Bloomberg, “Red States to Reap the Biggest Rewards From Biden’s Climate Package”, April 2023. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2023-red-states-will-reap-the-biggest-rewards-from-biden-s-climate-package/

          7

          Amanda Chu, Oliver Roeder and Alex Irwin-Hunt, “Inside the $220bn American Cleantech Project Boom,” Financial Times, August 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/3b19c51d-462b43fa-9e0e-3445640aabb5

          8

          Bloomberg, “Red States to Reap the Biggest Rewards From Biden’s Climate Package”, April 2023. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2023-red-states-will-reap-the-biggest-rewards-from-biden-s-climate-package/

          9

          Ibid.

          10

          Ibid.

          11

          Ibid.

          12

          Ibid.

          13

          Ibid.

          14

          Ibid.

          Related posts

          • 1
          • 2
          • 3

          Select Your Country

          United Kingdom
          Germany
          Italy
          Switzerland
          Austria
          Denmark
          Finland
          Ireland
          Luxembourg
          Netherlands
          Norway
          Spain
          Sweden

          Select Your Investor Type

          ======