Technology

$220 billion is helping build US cleantech infrastructure. Here are the projects.


President Joe Biden standing and speaking in front of microphones.
Enlarge / President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 13, 2021.

Getty Images | Bloomberg

A year ago, President Joe Biden launched a new era of US industrial policy, signing into law the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips and Science Act. Passed within days of each other last August, the two laws offered more than $400 billion in tax credits, loans, and subsidies, all designed to spark development of a domestic cleantech and semiconductor supply chain.

Over the past year, the Financial Times has identified more than 110 large-scale manufacturing announcements—including in semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, and solar and wind parts—spurred by the landmark legislation. We have examined them and spoken to experts, and here is what we have learned.

$224 billion worth of projects and 100,000 jobs

At least $224 billion in cleantech and semiconductor manufacturing projects have been announced in the US since the passage of the IRA and the Chips Act. In total, they promise to create 100,000 jobs. The FT tallied company announcements of at least $100 million from August 2022 to this week.

While the pace of announcements has slowed, each month since the acts passed has brought new projects. This month, Singapore-based Maxeon Solar Technologies announced a $1 billion solar panel facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and US manufacturer First Solar picked Louisiana for its fifth factory, worth $1.1 billion—the largest capital investment in the region’s history.

“The [IRA] is working to accelerate the nation’s energy transition, spur economic growth, and launch a renaissance in American manufacturing. I don’t think in my career I’ve ever seen a law have a greater impact on economic development in this country,” said Gregory Wetstone, chief executive officer of the American Council on Renewable Energy, a clean energy lobbying group, at a panel on Monday.

The largest commitments have come from semiconductor groups: Intel will expand a campus in Arizona and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will build a second fabrication plant in the same state; IBM will invest in New York’s Hudson Valley region and Micron will build the US’s largest semiconductor plant in Clay, New York.

Planned project sites pepper the country, but certain states and regions are streaking ahead, and new manufacturing hubs are appearing. Georgia and South Carolina have secured the most projects, with 14 and 11, respectively. Michigan and Ohio are next, and Arizona follows.

“It just gives you chill bumps to think about in the next 10 to 20 years—what is the Midlands region gonna look like?” said Ashely Teasdel, South Carolina’s deputy secretary of commerce, of Volkswagen’s $2 billion plan to build an electric vehicle plant in the state’s central region. South Carolina awarded Volkswagen a $1.3 billion incentive package to secure the project.

Republican districts have secured the dollars

The FT found that more than 80 percent of cleantech and semiconductor investments announced in the past year are heading to Republican districts, despite there having been no votes from congressional Republicans for the IRA and only lukewarm support for the Chips Act.

“We have incredible support from both Democrats and Republicans in Georgia,” said Marta Stoepker, spokesperson for Qcells, a South Korean solar manufacturer that this year made a $2.5 billion investment in two Republican districts in Georgia, including one represented by GOP firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But a Republican-led committee in the House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would weaken the IRA, while the rightwing Heritage Foundation think-tank’s Project 2025 has already created a lengthy manual calling on a potential future Republican administration to roll back the legislation.

“One of the biggest differences in policy between a Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate is going to be what is going to happen with energy,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a former Trump administration official now at Heritage. “Project 2025 is to make sure the economy grows fast, and it’ll grow faster with lower spending, especially public spending.”