New clean energy investments have topped $40B since the IRA passed, report says

Source: By Diana DiGangi, Utility Dive • Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2022

A picture of wind turbines in front of solar panels in Palm Springs, California.Wind turbines are powered by strong winds in front of solar panels on March 27, 2013, in Palm Springs, California. Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

Clean energy investments soared in a recent three-month period, totaling $40 billion and equaling the entire amount invested in 2021, according to an industry group.

The report by American Clean Power, a trade group, covers a period of growth the clean energy sector saw between Aug. 16, the day the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, and Nov. 30, including the announcement of 20 new clean energy manufacturing facilities or facility expansions.

Twelve are solar manufacturing facilities, representing more than a 300% increase in solar module manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and a potential new 22 GW. Overall, 13 GW of clean energy project capacity have been announced.

The Inflation Reduction Act is seen as a boon to clean energy, calling for tax credits that would spur a range of projects such as storage, electric vehicle charging stations and more.

The U.S. solar industry is working to quickly build up domestic manufacturing capacity while it awaits a final decision from the Department of Commerce on a tariff case against several foreign manufacturers. A decision against the manufacturers would throttle solar panel imports, necessitating a massive increase in domestic solar equipment production. 

Six grid-scale battery storage facilities or facility expansions have also been announced since August, and one wind power manufacturing facility has been reopened, while another will be expanded. ACP says that these 20 new facilities are expected to add 7,000 jobs in the U.S.

“In just the last three months, signs of rapid growth for maturing American clean energy industries are beginning to emerge,” ACP’s report says. “U.S. wind manufacturing plants that closed in recent years are bringing back workers. Plans for new solar, battery and offshore wind plants are being drawn and developed.”

ACP attributes this rapid growth in large part to the IRA, which has offered “companies significant opportunity to invest in new utility-scale wind, solar, and storage projects and manufacturing facilities,” the industry group said.

The report credits the IRA with accelerating Alliant Energy’s plans to build two utility-scale battery storage facilities at solar farms in Wisconsin and reducing the cost of Xcel Energy’s plan to build 460 MW of solar near its coal-fired Sherco power plant in Minnesota by 30%.

ACP interim CEO and Chief Advocacy Officer JC Sandberg said in a release that the group is urging “the administration and Congress to continue improving trade policies, enacting common sense permitting reform and finalizing effective tax implementation” to ensure the investments reach their full potential.