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Natural gas, solar won’t suffer from Trump’s plan to leave Paris climate accord

The natural gas and solar sectors will survive — and maybe even
thrive — in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision last
week to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Trump said Thursday that the U.S.
will leave
the Paris accord because it is “very unfair, at
the highest level, to the United States.” Staying in the
agreement would pose “serious obstacles” for the U.S. as it
begins “the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s
abundant energy reserves,” he said.

Phil Van Horne, chief executive officer and founder of energy
solutions firm BlueRock Energy, said that in the long term,
this move would result in a “better deployment of intellectual
and financial capital.”

‘Renewables will continue to be a key part of the supply mix due
to state level policies and corporate environmental objectives.’

Phil Van Horne, BlueRock Energy

But that “does not mean that renewable [energy] growth is
stifled,” he said. “Renewables will continue to be a key part
of the supply mix due to state level policies and corporate
environmental objectives.”

Production for several industrial sectors would have taken a
hit under the pact, hurting the economy and prompting the loss
of 6.5 million industrial jobs, Trump claimed. Coal output, in
particular under the Paris agreement, would drop 86% by 2040,
he said.

“I happen to love the coal miners,” Trump said.

James Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics, however,
said Trump’s decision may have “little positive impact on
coal.”

The president’s “policies on drilling and pipeline construction
will likely have more impact on gas

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— encouraging more natural-gas production, which could lower
prices and keep it competitive with coal.”

Read: Coal bows to natural gas, as consumption
falls to lowest since 1984

Besides, there are many other countries that will feed demand
for cleaner energy sources.

“There almost 200 other countries party to it which could
provide significant increases to our [liquefied natural gas] exports,” said Beth Sewell, managing partner at Quantum Power
& Gas Services. “The U.S. will also be a larger consumer of
natural gas due to the number of coal-fired plants being
retired over the next couple of years, and wind is a fickle
power generator that isn’t all that reliable.”

Meanwhile, solar still isn’t economical without tax subsidies,
said Sewell.

But Brien Lundin, co-founder of Natcore Technology Inc.

NXT, -8.89%

NTCXF,
-4.14%

a solar research and development company, said that
solar technology has generally “advanced to the point where
it’s already at parity with conventional power in large swaths
of the world.”

“Energy costs are very low in the U.S. compared with the rest
of the world, and we tend to believe that’s the case around the
globe,” he said.

Read: Paris agreement or not, solar employment
looking brighter than coal

So the “U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord will have little
impact on the growth of solar energy worldwide,” said Lundin.

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