Solar stocks tumble as election darkens prospects for pro-climate policies


2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden walks past solar panels during a Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative visit to Plymouth, New Hampshire, USA, on June 4, 2019.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

As the broader market rallied on Wednesday, a number of renewable energy companies pulled back over fears that a Republican-controlled Senate would pursue climate-friendly policies.

First Solar, a maker of solar panels, fell 8.6%, while home solar energy supplier SunPower fell 2.8%. SunRun, another residential solar power provider, shut down after falling earlier, and fuel cell maker Plug Power slipped 2%.

All of them have outperformed the broader market this year, with solar companies in particular gaining momentum in recent months as polls tilted in favor of Joe Biden in the presidential race and Democratic Senate candidates. Tuesday’s election results have yet to be announced in a number of key states, but the path for Democrats to overthrow the Senate has all but disappeared.

Biden has made climate change one of the central issues of his campaign and has clearly contrasted with the Trump administration, which lifted numerous energy regulations and withdrew from the Paris agreement signed when Barack Obama was president. . Last year, Biden presented a $ 1.7 trillion plan for clean energy research and infrastructure overhaul that would be funded by the cancellation of Republican tax cuts.

On his website, Biden says the Green New Deal, a set of goals set by Democrats in Congress, provides a “crucial framework for addressing the climate challenges we face.” Broadly speaking, supporters of the Green New Deal aim to transform America’s energy and transportation industries, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero and switching to renewable energy sources.

Legislation backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) would renovate 1 million federally owned housing units and fund solar panels and other sources of renewable energy for public housing. Another supporter is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

To move forward with legislative action, Democrats likely need control of the White House as well as both houses of Congress. Democrats will retain their majority in the House, NBC News predicted Tuesday night, but the presidential race remains tight and Democrats have failed to win multiple Senate seats where they were favorites.

Not all solar energy leaders are supporters of the Green New Deal because of the political challenges involved. SunPower CEO Tom Werner told Reuters last year that, “If you come to broadly approve of the Green New Deal, you’re likely to upset one side of the aisle or the other.”

Renewable energy companies were clearly lagging behind on Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.3%, the S&P 500 by 2.2% and the Nasdaq Composite by 3.9%. The biggest tech companies have all risen, driven by Facebook’s 8.3% increase, on optimism that the deadlock in Washington will hamper industry regulatory efforts.

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