When America Leads: Why the US Should Lead the Clean Energy Transition

When America Leads: Why the US Should Lead the Clean Energy Transition

Clean energy transition

The US holds the potential to lead the world as a clean energy superpower. Our When America Leads project, released last year, illuminates the path forward. Our breakthrough findings lay out how the US can not only seize global leadership but also carve out a distinct advantage across ten pivotal clean energy technologies, representing a $130 trillion market, all while helping the world reduce 30 gigatons of CO2 annually.

One year later, our work has proved prescient. Propelled by the trifecta of legislation of the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS & Science Act, America’s clean technology investments have nearly tripled since 2018. And we’re just getting started.

Here are three reasons why when America leads in clean energy, we all thrive. 

1. Battle of the Superpowers: There’s no question about it: China is leading globally when it comes to renewable power. Last year, the country spent a whopping $99 billion in wind and large-scale solar projects, firmly seizing control of key aspects of the two technologies' clean energy supply chains. In fact, China spent $546 billion total on clean energy last year, which also included investments in electric vehicles and batteries.

But that can–and will–change. Since the Inflation Reduction Act, we have seen $213 billion in actual new clean investment across the economy, representing a 37% jump from the previous year and a remarkable 165% rise from five years ago.

Our report shows that, with the right investments, the US is poised to excel in various forms of clean energy segment of the supply chain, challenging China’s control of this growing manufacturing sector. 

2. Targeted Investments: Our report finds that the US can recapture a portion of the $1 trillion offshore wind market and $5 trillion solar market, among other clean technologies, through targeted investments that develop our workforce and revitalize US manufacturing. The key, as outlined in our report, is to focus on specific pieces/segments of the supply chain where the US is uniquely equipped to thrive. 

These investments will help reduce emissions, make our economy more diverse, and help the United States achieve and maintain energy independence. That’s a huge win for the climate and for our economy.

3. New Technologies = New Jobs: Blue-collar communities stand at the forefront of the clean energy economy's potential benefits. Our research reveals that the adoption of these ten technologies will foster job opportunities with competitive salaries ranging from $72,613 to $130,955, serving as a great transition for former coal and fossil fuel communities, and many of these jobs will not require a college degree. 

Here are some examples:

  • Investing in electric vehicles positions the United States to compete for up to 10 million jobs between 2020 and 2050. These jobs encompass roles in battery production and EV assembly plants that don’t require higher levels of education, to high-income jobs in software development that require college degrees.
  • The development of low-carbon steel is expected to create an average of 30,000 jobs annually through 2050, encompassing tasks related to building, constructing, and operating clean steel facilities within the country.
  • A significant boost in US solar manufacturing and deployment has the potential to generate over 550,000 jobs from 2020 to 2050. This job growth will be primarily driven by project development, engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) roles.
  • Competitiveness and Commercial Diplomacy18


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