The U.S., Canada and Mexico have agreed to boost their combined clean-energy generation to 50% of electricity production by 2025, from 37% last year.
President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, formally released the plan on June 29, when they met in Ottawa.
Brian Deese, senior advisor to the president, told reporters in a June 27 briefing, “We believe this is an aggressive goal but, for all three countries, one that we believe is achievable continent-wide.”
He said that the targeted gains in the North American clean energy “partnership and action plan” will come primarily from expanding renewable energy and increases in energy efficiency.
Also part of the mix will be nuclear power, though the overall goal doesn’t project a rise in nuclear generation, as well as power plants that use carbon capture and storage.
Deese said he expects increases in the U.S. clean-energy share—about 32% last year—with the administration’s Clean Power Plan regulations for greenhouse gases “a central component.” Last year’s extension of a tax credit for renewable energy also will play a role.
Deese observed that increasing use of clean energy also is a priority for Trudeau’s administration. He added that Mexico last year passed an energy transition law that calls for the country to boost clean energy to 35% of its electricity production by the end of 2024, from 18% now.
Solar Energy Industries Association Acting President Tom Kimbis praised the countries' group of pledges and said in a June 29 statement that they were "historical and attainable." Kimbis added, "Together they represent a significant growth opportunity for solar energy across the continent."
Noting that the leaders pledged to support cross-border transmission lines, Kimbis said they would "open the door to more inexpensive utility-scale solar projects." The plan states that at least six such lines, totaling 5,000 megawatts, have been proposed or are in the permit-review stage.
The American Wind Energy Association also welcomed the plan.The group's CEO, Tom Kiernan, said in a June 28 statement that wind power has accounted for 77% of the increase in non-carbon-emitting electricity generation in the past decade. Kiernan contended that hat wind power "will be the workhorse to meet future carbon-reduction targets, while saving consumers money."
In another action at the North American Leaders’ Summit, Deese said Mexico will join earlier U.S. and Canadian pledges and reduce its methane emissions by 40% to 45% by 2025, Deese added.
He noted that in January 2015, Obama announced a commitment to that goal and Trudeau did the same in March 2016.
In addition, the leaders will spend “significant time” discussing trade issues, with the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement one likely topic, said Mark Feierstein, National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs.
Feierstein noted that the meeting will include bilateral and trilateral meetings and will present opportunities to discuss such issues as economic competitiveness, security and defense.
He also said the meeting presents an opportunity for the leaders to converse about Great Britain’s coming departure from the European Union, “and what it means for our economies and how we can best coordinate our efforts.”
Moreover, Feierstein said that the three countries will be “operationalizing” a North American “caucus” to provide a more formal coordination among them on regional and global issues.
Story updated on June 29 with announcement and industry comments.