U.S. cleantech investment soars, new database finds

Washington D.C. Correspondent
Source: The Clean Investment Monitor, Rhodium Group and MIT CEEPR. • Fiscal years run from June 30 to July 1. Energy & Industry includes utility-scale solar, batteries and carbon capture. Retail includes consumer-facing technologies like heat pumps and EVs.

Investments in clean energy technologies in the United States have nearly tripled over the past five years, according to a new database unveiled today by former White House economic advisor Brian Deese and research firm Rhodium Group.

President Joe Biden made reviving domestic manufacturing a cornerstone of his climate agenda. The enactment of three key pieces of legislation — the Infrastructure Investment Act, the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act — infused generous amounts of cash into the cleantech economy, which U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said is starting to bear fruit.

“Money is flowing, shovels are breaking ground… The clean energy economy is changing before our eyes,” said Granholm when announcing the release of IRA funds to boost electrical vehicle and battery manufacturing last month.

Since July 2018, annual investments in developing and installing renewables, electric vehicles, batteries and other technologies have soared 165%, reaching $213 billion in June 2023.

“At $213 billion, clean investment nationwide is larger than the annual GDP of 18 of the 50 states in the U.S.,” Rhodium wrote in a report accompanying the new database.

Compiled from third-party data sources, company announcements, financial filings and news reports among other sources, the Clean Investment Monitor compiles information about U.S. cleantech investments in real time. It tracks investments by manufacturing of clean energy technologies, their deployment to produce clean energy in industry and their end use in electric vehicles and other technologies.

The monitor is a brainchild of Deese, Biden’s National Economic Council Director for two years who is now at MIT as its Innovation Fellow.

When quantifying IRA benefits, the U.S. Treasury Department said $200 billion of announced investments are in clean energy, electric vehicles and batteries. And most of these investments have taken place in communities that were economically disadvantaged.

The manufacturing sector has particularly reaped the benefits of this funding surge, with yearly investments rising 125% from relatively modest pre-pandemic levels. The monitor shows the lion’s share of this sector’s investment has gone into building up the EV supply chain, and battery manufacturing in particular.

Beyond EVs, solar manufacturing is drawing considerable investor interest. Since July 2022, utility-scale solar has pulled the most investment ($30 billion) among mature clean energy technologies, followed by grid-related storage ($14 billion) and then wind ($11 billion), according to the monitor.

Although emerging technologies such as carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen continue to draw investor interest as well, their numbers are dwarfed by their more mature counterparts.

The monitor also indicates how these technologies are being adopted by end users, namely American households and businesses who have spent $70 billion in the past year on zero-emission vehicles featuring batteries as well as hydrogen fuel cells.

“Based on recent announcement activity, we fully expect clean investment to increase in the years ahead,” said Trevor Houser, a partner in Rhodium’s energy and climate practice. “The Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are clearly accelerating the pace of clean investment in the U.S.”