FOCUS: From opposite coasts, projects in green hydrogen, offshore wind jolt U.S. clean economy
From a Silicon Valley startup flush with venture capital to a hulking legacy shipyard in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, at least 13 major clean energy projects were announced in September from coast to coast. Combined, they include $2.7 billion in private-sector investments that promise to create 6,100 jobs.
Out West, a startup called Verdegy announced it is building a 100,000-square-foot green hydrogen electrolyzer manufacturing plant. Founded only two years ago, Verdegy recently closed a $73 million Series B funding round. Now, it wants to double its workforce to service customers in heavy industries like chemicals, fertilizer, steel and e-fuels.
Verdegy said its advanced manufacturing plant could help dramatically scale up the production of electrolyzers that use renewable electricity to split hydrogen from oxygen molecules in water. With the U.S. Treasury Department finalizing guidance on requirements needed to qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act’s “45V” hydrogen tax credits, Verdegy could be poised for even more growth.
Back East, family-owned Lyon Shipyard announced a new $8.5 million investment to help it better serve commercial ships and vessels involved in Virginia’s fledgling offshore wind industry. The Norfolk, Va.-based company, founded in 1928, said its latest investment is expected to create 134 jobs. Lyon’s current job postings include openings for riggers, marine electricians, dockmasters, painters and machinists – creating new opportunities for workers in old-school occupations thanks to the new industry of clean energy.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of Lyon’s new 900-ton boat lift, Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin sounded bullish about offshore wind’s potential. “In this emerging industry….we are going to see a thriving hub of activity,” he said.
The Biden administration seems to agree. It set a goal of developing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, enough to power more than 10 million homes. While high interest rates and a slowly developing supply chain have stunted industry growth, ports up and down the East Coast are competing to attract domestic offshore wind companies in a sector expected to be worth some $57 billion by the end of the decade.
In addition to green hydrogen and offshore wind, E2 tracked announcements from four other industries: solar, EV, battery and grid/transmission. The month’s largest announcement came from Chinese EV battery company Gotion. At a 150-acre site in Manteno, Ill., Gotion is planning a $2 billion gigfactory expected to create 2,600 jobs, though projects the company has announced in other states have received some pushback. Illinois Gov. JB Prizker called it “the most significant new manufacturing investment in Illinois in decades.”
Since the IRA was signed into law in August 2022, E2 has tracked 234 projects across 40 states representing nearly $91 billion in private-sector investments that could help create more than 80,000 jobs. For a complete rundown of all announcements E2 has tracked, please see here.
SPOTLIGHT: Using AI to help underserved communities address social and environmental issues
Co-founder / CEO / vice chairperson
What did you do early in your career?
I abstained from the innate pressures of entering the family business of being a doctor and got into investment banking. But by December 2019, I was burned out and looking to change careers. I intended to pursue a biotech career, but a few months later, COVID upends the world. It was really a period for me to find myself. I started applying to various nonprofits to use skills I gained as an investment banker for good. Eventually, I was volunteering for an environmental health equity think-tank called the Pittsburgh Platform. This was my “Sustainability 101” course.
What motivated you to make climate your career?
One of our team members was talking about the significance of green spaces. I rolled my eyes – how big of a deal can a park be, right? After the call, I looked at a map of urban heating in Richmond, Va. It showed summertime temperature differences between certain regions reached 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I realized that map was identical to another one showing Richmond’s formerly redlined neighborhoods. That was a lightbulb moment: Climate change isn’t just an environmental crisis. It’s a social crisis, too.
What did you do next?
I co-founded an early-stage climate tech company called Narralytics. We’re developing an AI-powered software platform that makes it easy, effective and financially compelling for U.S. businesses to use data to measure, report and optimize their social and environmental impacts within underserved communities. We’ve raised $275,000, we’re looking to raise another $500,000, and we’re hoping to commercialize by summer 2024.
What sets your company apart from other data analytics companies?
We record stories in frontline communities. Using enabling technologies like large language models and natural language processing, we take unstructured narratives and turn them into structured data and integrate it with our quantitative insights to ensure our analytics are ultimately contextualized, enriched and validated by the lived experiences of the communities we intend to serve. Our business hypothesis is simple: It’s that who is better to identify and co-develop solutions for systemic inefficiencies than the frontline communities which deal with these issues day-in, day-out.
Where are you piloting your product?
The model is most attuned to cities. Initially, the markets we’re going to be servicing are Watts and Compton, two neighborhoods in southern Los Angeles. But it’s challenging. I’m not a native of those communities, I’m an outsider. Compounding that, I’m representing a data analytics company. A lot of these communities have been poked and prodded by various institutions over the years with little to no change occurring. You have to combat a lot of skepticism.
What do you think about public investments like the IRA and the Justice40 Initiative?
Trillions of dollars will be spent over the next few decades decarbonizing the economy and instituting a just transition. There are probably good ways and less good ways to do that. And robust independent analysis and community engagement can help support better decision-making and allocate capital more efficiently and equitably. We did a line-by-line review of the IRA, and we estimated that in underserved urban communities, there can be as much as $78 billion allocated. That’s huge. It represents a shift in shift in philosophy in how we address the climate crisis.
The IRA signals something of a shift in U.S. policy away from globalization toward a more nationally focused industrial policy. Since the ’80s, the dominant paradigm has been that free markets and low barriers to international trade are the most effective and efficient way to allocate goods and
services. And it’s a paradigm in which the economy is, in some ways, de-politicized, with markets autonomous and self-correcting. But the last few years three developments have shaken some of this faith in globalization and free markets – COVID, the energy crisis in Europe, and finally the more general push toward supporting domestic industry and reducing outsourcing to countries that may have lower labor costs and labor standards. And I think it’s highly likely that Hamas’s attack on Israel, Iran’s purported backing of that attack, and the growing regional instability will lead to a spike and overall volatility in crude prices, further substantiating a shift toward a more nationally focused industrial policy.
What does this have to do with the IRA?
This means the IRA is poised to spur and accelerate the energy transition. I think the sustainability boom can have the same massive scale of the Industrial Revolution. But due to enabling technologies like artificial intelligence, like the Internet of Things and the prevalence of data, it will happen much more quickly. It will have the speed of the digital age.
TOTAL PROJECTS BY STATE
Investment: $1.603 billion
Investment: $250 million
Investment: $5.901 billion
Investment: $1.6 billion
Investment: $880 million
Investment: $24.8 million
Investment: $72 million
Investment: $14.401 billion
Investment: $2.064 billion
Jobs: $2.416 billion
Investment: $646 million
Investment: $1.214 billion
Investment: $45.7 million
Investment: $14 million
Investment: $6 million
Investment: $9.163 billion
Investment: $145 million
Investment: $100 million
Investment: $115 million
NORTH CAROLINA (10)
Investment: $9.973 billion
NEW HAMPSHIRE (1)
Investment: $16.3 million
NEW MEXICO (4)
Investment: $1.194 billion
Investment: $6.6 billion
NEW YORK (10)
Investment: $783 million
Investment: $6.395 billion
Investment: $2.45 billion
Investment: $116.1 million
PUERTO RICO (1)
RHODE ISLAND (1)
SOUTH CAROLINA (19)
Investment: $11.071 billion
Investment: $5.174 billion
Investment: $6.769 billion
Investment: $45.5 million
Investment: $242 million
WEST VIRGINIA (2)
Investment: $1.260 billion
SEPTEMBER CLEAN ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENTS
IN SEPTEMBER, E2 TRACKED 13 PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENTS ACROSS 11 STATES THAT ARE EXPECTED TO DRIVE MORE THAN $2.67 BILLION IN PRIVATE-SECTOR INVESTMENTS AND CREATE MORE THAN 6,100 JOBS.
ALABAMA (Lawrence County): OMCO Solar opens sixth U.S. factory producing racking and trackers; Sept. 12
Est. Investment: $10 million
CALIFORNIA (Newark): Verdagy to manufacture hydrogen electrolyzers in its new advanced Silicon Valley facility; Sept. 19
ILLINOIS (Manteno): Catalyze announces solar and storage development agreement; Sept. 8
Est. Jobs: 2,600
Est. Investment: $2 billion
ILLINOIS (Vernon): Gov. Pritzker and Gotion announce new $2 billion electric vehicle battery gigafactory in Kankakee County; Sept. 7
KENTUCKY (Hopkinsville): Ascend Elements and South Korean partners to build battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville; Sept. 26
Est. Jobs: 60
Est. Investment: $65 million
MICHIGAN (Battle Creek): Gov. Whitmer secures $63 million investment for Battle Creek by DENSO during economic development mission in Japan; Sept. 8
Est. Investment: $63 million
NEW MEXICO (Santa Teresa): Taiwanese automotive component supplier to open facility in New Mexico; Sept. 21
Est. Jobs: 350
Est. Investment: $99 million
OKLAHOMA (Bartlesville): Blue Whale Materials selects Bartlesville, Okla., for its first commercial-scale li-ion battery processing facility; Sept. 20
Est. Jobs: 90
RHODE ISLAND (Providence): ProvPort enters partnership to generate 1.7 megawatts of solar energy; Sept. 6
SOUTH CAROLINA (Fort Mill): Canada’s Silfab to set up solar cell factory in South Carolina; Sept. 19
Est. Jobs: 800
Est. Investment: $150 million
TEXAS (Wilmer): Chinese solar giant Trina is opening a 5-gigawatt factory in Texas; Sept. 11
Est. Jobs: 1,500
Est. Investment: $200 million
TEXAS (El Paso): Eaton’s $80 million investment to bring more than 600 jobs to El Paso; Sept. 12
Est. Jobs: 600
Est. Investment: $80 million
VIRGINIA (Norfolk): Ship repair facility to expand in Virginia; Sept. 20
Est. Jobs: 134
Est. Investment: 8.5 million
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.