This Week in Climate & Clean Energy Wins: Week of 1/13
See our state by state breakdown here.
The year scientists expect a complete recovery of the ozone layer in most parts of the world, according to a UN assessment.
Energy companies’ total investments this week toward EV manufacturing expansion and solar plants across the country.
The percent of U.S. households that could cut energy cost burden by using EVs, according to a new University of Michigan study.
In major news, Politico reported that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a climate change skeptic who has spread toxic climate disinformation, including claiming that global warming is “healthy” for people, is now celebrating the recently announced $2.5 billion Qcells expansion in her district. Rep. Greene’s change in tune on clean energy represents a shift in the politics of climate, where even the most climate-skeptic officials have to support clean energy expansion. In other hallmark climate news this week, the Earth’s ozone layer is on track to recover completely by 2040 according to a new UN assessment, thanks to international cooperation and the decades-long work of climate activists and scientists. Building off historic legislation from 2022, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS Act, and Inflation Reduction Act together are expected to create over 1 million jobs at a time of economic uncertainty, and U.S. clean energy companies are increasing pay and benefits to hire workers to meet climate goals, expanding opportunities particularly for military veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals. The Biden Administration announced $100 million in environmental justice grants through the Inflation Reduction Act for underserved communities, and the EPA proposed tightened air pollution limits that could prevent as many as 4,200 premature deaths a year. The Department of Defense, which accounts for more than half of the federal government’s carbon footprint, is exploring vehicle technology that would cut military fuel consumption by 20% overall.
Energy companies start the year by pledging over $3 billion toward EV manufacturing expansion and solar plants across the country, and the price of a key input for solar panels has fallen 54% since August of 2022:
- South Korean company Hanwha Q Cells announced a $2.5 billion investment to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Cartersville, Georgia and plans to expand their existing plant in Dalton, Georgia. [Politico, 1/11/2023]
- A test case in getting buy-in for the climate law in GOP-led states, the facilities will supply 30% of the nation’s solar panels by 2027 once fully functional.
- Tesla plans to spend over $770 million to expand its electric vehicle factory in Austin, Texas. [CNBC, 1/10/2023]
- Tesla has officially registered with the state of Texas for its factory expansion, which will include construction for battery cell testing and manufacturing.
- Companies including GM, Ford, Google, and solar energy producers announced a partnership this week to establish standards for scaling up virtual power plant systems. [Reuters, 1/10/2023]
- Hosted by energy transition nonprofit RMI, the Virtual Power Plant Partnership will ease loads on electricity grids and shape future policy for promoting the use of the systems.
- Chinese solar firm JA Solar Technology announced plans to build a $60 million solar panel plant in Phoenix, Arizona. [Bloomberg, 1/11/2023]
- A major win for Biden’s energy push, the new plant will have a production capacity of 2 GW once fully operational.
- The price of polysilicon, a key input for solar panels, has fallen 54% since August, 2022. [PV Magazine, 1/5/2023]
- A slowdown of purchasing in China and a ramp up of supply has led to continued price declines for polysilicon.
In a big week of new reports, the UN determined the Earth’s ozone layer is on track to recover within decades, the Inflation Reduction Act is set to create over 1 million jobs, renewable energy sources will account for 24% of the U.S.’ energy supply this year, and more than 90% of U.S. households could reduce energy cost burden by switching to EVs. Additionally, U.S. energy companies are increasing pay and benefits to hire workers needed to meet climate goals, particularly among military veterans and the formerly incarcerated:
- According to a new UN assessment, the Earth’s ozone layer is on track to recover completely by 2040. [CNN, 1/9/2023]
- International cooperation has helped curb the damage since scientists first raised the alarm in the late 1980s, as ozone-depleting chemicals are phased out across the world.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act are expected to create over 1 million jobs. [New York Times, 1/10/2023]
- Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act is set to drive job growth during a period of predicted economic deceleration.
- Clean energy tax credit transferability, a benefit of the Inflation Reduction Act, will allow developers without large taxable profits to benefit from clean energy tax credits. [Utility Dive, 1/5/2023]
- Now, financiers can provide loans against tax credit monetization and avoid tax equity uncertainty, expanding capital options and avoiding construction delays.
- U.S. clean energy companies are increasing pay and benefits to hire workers needed to meet climate goals. [Reuters 1/11/2023]
- To meet requirements of the Inflation Reduction act, employers are increasingly turning to unionized labor and solar, wind, and EV companies have expanded free and subsidized job training programs to recruit military veterans and the formerly incarcerated.
- A University of Michigan study found that nearly all U.S. households could cut energy cost burden by using EVs. [Reuters, 1/11/2023]
- The study found that more than 90% of households would reduce the percentage of their income spent on transportation with an EV.
- Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, wind, and solar will account for 24% of the U.S.’ energy supply this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency [CBS News, 1/9/2023]
- Tracking across states, Hawaii became the first in 2015 to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2045, and they are ahead of schedule – the state’s last remaining coal plant closed in 2022.
The Biden Administration announced $100 million in environmental justice grants, issued new guidance to increase efficiency in the permitting process for clean energy and infrastructure projects among federal agencies, and proposed tightened air pollution limits that could prevent an estimated 4,200 premature deaths per year. The Department of Defense, which accounts for more than half of the federal government’s carbon footprint, is exploring vehicle technology that would cut military fuel consumption by 20% overall:
- The Biden Administration announced the availability of $100 million for environmental justice grants through the Inflation Reduction Act. [EPA Press Release, 1/10/2023]
- The EPA opened applications for grants dedicated toward projects that advance environmental justice in underserved and overburdened communities.
- The Department of Defense is exploring anti-idling technology for vehicles that would cut military fuel consumption by 20% overall. [The Washington Post, 1/9/2023]
- This switch would have a large climate impact given that the Department of Defense currently accounts for more than half of the federal government’s carbon footprint.
- The Biden Administration issued new guidance to help federal agencies better assess and disclose climate impacts as they conduct environmental reviews. [White House Press Release, 1/6/2023]
- The guidance will allow more certainty and efficiency in the permitting process for clean energy and infrastructure projects.
- The EPA proposed tightened limits on air pollution, specifically how much soot can be in the air and its impacts on public health. [The Hill, 1/6/2023]
- The administration estimated that its move could prevent as many as 4,200 premature deaths per year.
On the state level, Michigan continues to lead in clean energy investments, with a $2B commitment to attracting EV and battery manufacturers in the state:
- Michigan made a $2B investment to attract EV and battery manufacturers in the state. [M Live, 1/9/2023]
- The investment lands Michigan as one of the top three states to lead U.S. EV battery manufacturing by 2030.