This Week in Climate & Clean Energy Wins: Week of 12/11/23

$100 Billon

The amount that the largest public pension fund in the U.S. announced plans  to invest in climate solutions by 2030. 

2.2 Million

The number of homes projected to be powered by Biden’s new offshore wind lease.

2,000

The amount of jobs that will be created after IBEW’s agreement to build the biggest clean energy project in U.S. history

This week in private sector news, the largest public pension fund in the U.S. announced plans to invest $100 billion in climate solutions by 2030 – in what Forbes is calling “a bold step tailored to meet the existential challenges and colossal financial risks of a warming climate, and harness the massive opportunities of the shift to a new clean economy.” Social media and data giant Meta is teaming up with SRP and Ørsted on a 300 megawatts (MW) solar-plus-storage project in Arizona, and CarMax is piloting an electric semi truck as a car hauler in California. 

New data shows monumental investments in clean energy technology – particularly in Republican congressional districts and low-income communities. In November, companies announced 11 large-scale domestic clean energy projects, adding nearly 2,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in investments. The U.S. solar sector is experiencing exponential growth, adding a record 33 gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity this year – more than double the capacity in 2022.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced an offshore wind lease proposal in the Central Atlantic with the potential to power over 2.2 million homes. The lease is a part of President Biden’s commitment to expand domestic offshore wind opportunities. The IBEW signed an agreement to build the biggest clean energy project in U.S. history, creating 2,000 new construction jobs – including 500 IBEW union-filled transmission construction jobs – and potentially powering 3 million homes in the southwest. The project was made possible by investments from Biden’s clean energy plan. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk celebrated U.S. clean energy accomplishments at COP28, spotlighting a range of initiatives that are a testament to the county’s transition to renewables.

Lastly, WEC Energy Group announced plans this week to close all remaining coal plants in Wisconsin by 2032, three years ahead of schedule. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) announced that the state can now power a city the size of Pittsburgh on solar alone. In Michigan, a remanufacturer of automotive drivetrain technology will invest $7.9M in a new electric vehicle facility, creating up to 163 jobs over five years. In Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community broke ground on the first-ever solar-panel-lined water canal project in the U.S. 

 

Private Sector

  • California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the U.S. announced plans to invest $100 billion in climate solutions by 2030. [Forbes, 12/4/2023]
    • Forbes writes of the decision, “There are times when an established company, an investor…makes a move that is so strategic– so in tune with the risks and the opportunities of the moment – that it marks the shift between the market’s past and its future. We recently witnessed that moment.” 
  • Meta, SRP and Ørsted announced a collaboration on a solar-plus-storage project in Arizona. [PV Tech, 12/12/2023
    • The facility is currently under construction, and once completed, is expected to have  a power capacity of 300 MW and a 4-hour battery energy storage system with the same output. 
  • CarMax is piloting an electric semi truck as a car hauler in California. [Electrek, 12/12/2023]
    • As part of CarMax’s goal to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2025, the pilot electric semi can transport up to seven vehicles at one time and has a range of around 230 miles. 

 

New Reports

  • New data shows increased investment in clean energy technologies across congressional districts, especially in red districts and low-income, disadvantaged communities. [CAP, 12/11/2023]
  • Last month companies announced 11 large-scale clean energy and clean vehicle projects across the United States. [Business Facilities, 12/12/2023]
    • More than half of the announcements included project details, adding up to nearly 2,000 new jobs and more than $1 billion in new private-sector investments.
  • The U.S. solar sector is expected to add a record 33 GW of new generation capacity in 2023, a 55% increase from 2022 [SEIA, 12/7/2023]
    • Solar energy is expected to be the largest source of generating capacity on the U.S. power grid by 2050. 
  • The IBEW signed an agreement to build the biggest clean energy project in U.S. history. The agreement will create 2,000 new construction jobs, including 500 IBEW union-filled transmission construction jobs. [IBEW, 12/13/2023]

 

Biden Administration

  • DOI announced a proposal for an offshore wind lease sale in the Central Atlantic, with the area having the potential to power over 2.2 million homes with clean energy. [DOI, 12/11/2023]
    • The announcement is part of President Biden’s commitment to expand offshore wind opportunities and create good-paying jobs for American workers.
  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk spotlighted a range of clean energy initiatives to spur the transition to clean energy systems at COP28. [DOE, 12/8/2023]
    • The initiatives ranged from issues on clean hydrogen and nuclear energy to zero-emissions transportation and building decarbonization.

 

State-Level  

  • WEC Energy Group announced plans this week to close all remaining coal plants in Wisconsin by 2032 – three years ahead of schedule. [WTMJ, 12/10/2023]
    • Two Oak Creek units owned by We Energies will close by 2024 and 2025, Columbia Energy Center co-owned by WEC and Alliant Energy will close by 2026 and Weston Unit 3 co-owned by WEC and Dairyland Power Cooperative will close by 2031.
  • The Pennsylvania DEP and the Pennsylvania PUCannounced on Tuesday that the Commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) program has now surpassed one gigawatt (GW) of solar energy – meaning Pennsylvania can now power a city the size of Pittsburgh on solar alone. [WTAJ, 12/12/2023]
  • A Detroit-based remanufacturer of automotive drivetrain technology will invest $7.9 million to build a new electric vehicle facility in western Michigan 
  • In Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community broke ground on the first-ever solar-panel-lined water canal project in the U.S. this week. [The Independent, 12/3/2023]
    • This is how it works: the solar panel coverings will reduce water evaporation and the water in the canals will cool the panels and make them more efficient in producing energy.