The U.S. is falling behind China and India in its ability to attract investment in solar energy.
That’s according to a recent report by accounting giant Ernst and Young which blames Trump administration efforts to rollback climate policies and boost the coal industry.
The U.N. said U.S. spending on solar lags well behind China which is set to spend more than $360 billion on renewable capacity by 2020.
But as CGTN’s Steve Mort reports, a handful of US cities say they’re trying to do their part to redress the balance.
Up on the roof checking his solar array Philip Stoddard said these panels have helped slash his home energy bill.
He’s the mayor of South Miami where, beginning next month, most new home construction must be fitted with solar panels. It’s his answer to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
“You’ve got mayors across the country saying ‘we are going to support the Paris climate accord if we can figure Out how to do it,’ and so this is one of the ways you can do it,” Stoddard said.
The U.S. government said a system similar to this costs about $8,000 in Florida after a tax rebate.
Despite trailing China, s
While the city of South Miami wants to increase the amount of solar energy generated within the community, it’s here at the Florida Solar Energy Center where experts are looking into the science behind creating the most efficient solar energy home.
Director James Fenton estimates it’ll take him just eight years to recoup the cost of his own solar panels at home.
But he fears U.S. threats to impose tariffs on imported panels could hinder efforts to boost solar capacity.
“Because what that means is that people that buy the solar are now paying a higher price,” Fenton said.
In Florida, only large utilities can sell electricity. Solar companies are banned from selling power directly to consumers from the panels they install.
Some critics of South Miami’s mandate said permitting competition would be more effective at promoting solar.
“A government mandate is the worst way to go,” Amy Cooke, the Director of the Independence Institute Energy Policy Center said.
“You should allow markets to work, individuals to innovate, technology to work, that’s how we’re going to get a cleaner environment and people in control of their own homes.”
While solar panels are expected to account for less than three percent of US electricity generation over the next five years, Philip Stoddard hopes to help increase that number. And he predicts more cities will adopt similar measures in the near future.