FOCUS: ‘The industrial revolution of our time’
In press releases and news stories touting the 10 major clean economy announcements tracked by E2 in June alone– amounting to nearly $1 billion in new investment and 3,140 jobs – business leaders and elected officials didn’t hold back their excitement about what they’re seeing happening on the ground across America’s booming clean economy:
- “The passage of the [Inflation Reduction Act] was a landmark moment for the clean energy future of the United States,” said VSK Energy co-chairman Sriram Das, whose company announced plans to develop a $250 million solar module manufacturing facility in Adams County, Colo., estimated to create 900 jobs.
- “The latest partner in making Georgia the epicenter of the industrial revolution of our time,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of NVH Korea and its new $72 million EV battery system component facility in Henry County, which could create more than 160 jobs.
- “Another example of the unprecedented growth happening here…for what continues to be an economic explosion for this area,” said Tennessee State Rep. Johnny Shaw, a Democrat, upon Enchem’s decision to invest $152 million in a Haywood County facility that will manufacture electrolytes for EV batteries and create 190 jobs.
Federal clean energy policies like the IRA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are now clearly having a tangible impact in towns and cities across the country – big, small and sometimes off the beaten path.
In addition to the projects above, the latest batch of announcements E2 tracked came from places like Canyonville, Ore., where a 4-megawatt solar array spread across 18 acres of field will be designed to support agriculture underneath; Crawfordville, Ind., where a state-of-the art steel plant will manufacture utility structures to help support electrification initiatives nationwide, and Mesquite, Texas, where yet another $250 million facility will manufacture solar modules, this one creating 1,500 jobs.
All told, since the IRA passed last August, 189 projects have been announced across 37 states totaling more than $84 billion in investments and more than 66,000 jobs.
Given these numbers, it’s easy to understand why businesses and politicians – Republicans and Democrats alike – are growing increasingly excited about America’s clean economy.
New York, New York
Where do you currently live?
I live in Brooklyn. There’s a good tech scene here and as a full-stack software engineer it was a logical place to be within New York City. But a lot of my friends call me a traitor, because I grew up in the Bronx.
What kind of access do you have to residential clean energy?
We live in Crown Heights. Back around 2017, we were an early client of BlocPower, which is now backed by VC firms and the likes of Goldman Sachs. BlocPower employs a lot more people now than the eight or so who worked there during our energy efficiency upgrades. We also have solar on our eight-apartment co-op. The array was installed by Brooklyn SolarWorks and Solar One, a nonprofit that connects New Yorkers to renewable energy incentive programs while helping train workers.
How has living in a green home impacted your own career?
I had previously worked in the nonprofit sector and thought I could help people join the green economy, particularly low-income people in the city, doing the kind of work I saw being done on my home. So I became business development manager for sustainability and clean energy at The HOPE Program, which helps people overcome barriers like racism and the digital divide to find good careers in the green economy. I built the business cultivation arm of their first HVAC training program and partnered with businesses and organizations from around the city.
Did that lead to other opportunities?
Absolutely. I was invited to join a green jobs working group within a larger network of organizations in New York. Our group developed a green jobs board, and given my software engineering background, I was asked to develop the software. I was like, ‘Okay, that sounds right up my alley.’
Is that what inspired you to start your current company, Climate64?
Yes. What I realized is that before people even get into the green economy, they have to have certifications. All these companies need talent and trained workers, but they are scarce. Before you can even set foot on a construction site, you need to have certain entry-level certifications, like OSHA 30, OSHA 40 and EPA 608 for handling refrigerants. We are basically an AI-driven certification matching system for workers and employers in a niche market, which is climate tech.
What advice would you give to a hiring manager at a clean economy company that wants to reach underserved communities to diversify their workforce?
I’ve been in workforce development for a while, focusing particularly on sustainability, and one of the things companies should be doing is partnering with community-driven sustainability programs. They need to get the word out with local communities and initiatives. They need to build some trust.
Anything else employers can do?
Unfortunately, one problem I run into with employers is they’re reluctant to hire people from these communities, because some people can have rough edges – maybe they have a record, maybe a misdemeanor. So they’ve kind of been shunned because of their background. But the truth is, people from these areas are some of the hardest-working people and all they need is opportunity. Some of my best experiences have been with employers who are a little bit more open to giving people a second chance.
On the other side of the equation, what advice would you give young people who want to break into the clean economy?
The green economy gives you an avenue to have a great job and take care of your family. More and more, it’s important for people to participate in the very projects happening in their neighborhoods. I’ll take an example from where I grew up in the Bronx. In a part of the borough called Hunt’s Point Market, it’s basically an industrial zone with fabrication plants, big truck depots and storage facilities where so much of the food and produce that feeds New York City passes through. That whole facility and all those trucks will be going electric. There are job opportunities in that transition.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launches $7 billion ‘Solar for All’ grant competition to fund residential solar programs
The EPA launched a $7 billion grant competition to increase access to solar energy for millions of low-income households. The Solar for All competition will help create and expand low-income solar programs that provide financing and technical assistance, such as workforce development, to enable low-income and disadvantaged communities deploy and benefit from residential solar. Read more.
First-ever national clean hydrogen strategy and roadmap is released
The Biden-Harris Administration released the “U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap,” a comprehensive framework for accelerating production, processing, delivery, storage and use of clean hydrogen. Read more.
Commerce announces $575 million for coastal and Great Lakes climate resilience
The Commerce Department announced its first-ever Climate Resilience Regional Challenge, which will provide $575 million to help coastal and Great Lakes communities become more resilient to extreme weather and other climate impacts. The Challenge is the first and largest funding opportunity released under the $2.6 billion Inflation Reduction Act climate resilience framework unveiled by the Commerce Department earlier this month. Read more.
EPA announces over $278 million in funding to improve water infrastructure for tribes and Alaska Native villages
The EPA announced more than $278 million in funding to improve access to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services for American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, helping to improve compliance with existing water regulations, identify and replace lead service lines, and address harmful emerging contaminants in drinking water and wastewater, such as per- and polyfluorinated substances, or PFAS. Read more.
New funding to advance battery recycling technology is announced
The Energy Department announced more than $192 million in new funding for recycling batteries from consumer products, launching an advanced battery R&D consortium and the continuation of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. Read more.
America’s industrial sector to receive $135 million to reduce emissions
Department of Energy (DOE) is investing $135 million in 40 projects to reduce carbon pollution from the industrial sector. The selected projects will support research, development and pilot-scale demonstrations in industries including cement and concrete, chemicals, food and beverage, iron and steel and petroleum refining. Read more.
Department of Energy announces $80 million to strengthen American manufacturing
DOE announced up to $80 million in grant funding help small- and medium-sized manufacturers improve energy efficiency, cut costs, increase productivity and reduce industrial emissions. Applications due July 14. Read more.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) invests $60 million to create a Climate-Ready Workforce
NOAA opened a competitive funding opportunity for the Climate-Ready Workforce for Coastal States, Tribes and Territories Initiative to connect people to good-paying jobs, such as landscape technicians, heat health outreach specialists and climate equity officers. NOAA will invest $60 million from the Inflation Reduction Act. Read more.
Energy Department intends to fund up to $36 million for industrial thin-film photovoltaic RD&D
The Solar Energy Technologies Office issued a notice of intent to release a funding opportunity announcement of up to $36 million for research, development and demonstration projects on two major thin-film PV technologies: metal halide perovskites and cadmium telluride. Read more.
DOE announces $4 million to reduce wood heater pollutants and accelerate innovative technology
Nearly 11 million U.S. homes use cordwood or wood pellets for space heating, producing 7 percent of the nation’s harmful particulate emissions. Now, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are teaming up to improve air quality through wood heater innovation, with $4 million in funding provided by EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. Concept papers due August 11. Read more.
DOE launches new round of American-made solar prize
The Energy Department launched the American-Made Solar Prize Round 7 – a $4 million prize program to spur innovations in solar hardware and software technologies. The round offers additional cash prizes and business development support for new and diverse teams. Read more.
JUNE CLEAN ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENTS
In JUNE, E2 tracked 10 project announcements across nine states that are expected to drive at least $1 billion in private-sector investments and create at a minimum 3,100 jobs.
|6/7||Woory Industrial Co||GA||Link||EV||130 jobs
|6/15||Canadian Solar||TX||Link||Solar Mfg.||1,500 Jobs
|6/18||SolRiver Captial||OR||Link||Solar Gen.||4MW|
|6/20||Holcim US||MI||Link||Solar Gen.||25MW|
|6/22||VSK Energy||CO||Link||Solar Mfg.||900 Jobs
|6/23||NVH Korea||GA||Link||EV||160 Jobs
|6/26||Enchem America Inc.||TN||Link||EV
ABOUT THIS ANALYSIS
This analysis is based on publicly available information for new clean energy projects, expansions, and renewed productions only announced since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed on August 16, 2022. Projects that began development, were proposed, or applied for local and state approval before the passage of the IRA are not included. For more information on other projects that stand to benefit to benefit from clean energy investments in different ways, see other resources below from the White House, Climate Power, the Climate Action Campaign, American Clean Power, and Energy Innovation.
Investing in America | Invest.gov | Interactive map that illustrates the impact of these record-breaking levels of public and private investment across states and territories under the Biden Administration.
Clean Energy Projects Tracker | ClimatePower.us | Climate Power’s analysis includes public announcements of clean energy developments that have been proposed, launched or advanced since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Climate Wins Here Map | ActOnClimate.com | Interactive map off federal investments made in nationwide through the IRA and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Clean Energy Investing in America | CleanPower.org | Analysis of utility-scale clean energy investments announced since August 16, 2022.
Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit Benefits By State | EnergyInnovation.org | Analysis of potential state-level benefits from the IRA on economic growth, jobs, and public health in the 48 contiguous states, focusing on clean electricity and clean vehicle tax credits.