Biden issues executive orders to spur clean energy construction

Dive Brief:

  • President Joe Biden announced on Monday three executive orders under the Defense Production Act to increase domestically manufactured clean energy technology and boost clean energy construction projects.
  • The orders aim to expand manufacturing of critical clean energy technologies and put the financial power of federal procurement behind clean energy. It also seeks to boost solar panel supply in order to accelerate solar projects, which are one of the priorities in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 
  • America’s solar industry is facing tariffs on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, which supply about 80% of U.S. panels and parts. The tariffs have delayed or canceled hundreds of utility-scale solar projects; one of Biden’s orders provides a two-year tariff exemption to support construction projects in the United States right now, according to the White House press release.

Dive Insight:

The president can invoke the 1950 DPA to order private businesses to prioritize the production of materials that have been deemed necessary for national defense. In addition to pausing tariffs amid an ongoing Commerce Department probe to shore up the solar supply chain and prioritizing federal purchase of U.S.-made solar systems, Biden authorized the Department of Energy to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of:

  • Solar panel parts.
  • Building insulation.
  • Heat pumps for buildings. 
  • Equipment to make and use clean electricity-generated fuels.
  • Critical power grid infrastructure like transformers.

The administration said the new orders will help the government meet its goal of eliminating carbon from the country’s power supply by 2035, and will protect clean energy jobs and builds.

“Together, these actions will spur domestic manufacturing, construction projects and good-paying jobs – all while cutting energy costs for families, strengthening our grid, and tackling climate change and environmental injustice,” the White House release said.

The executive actions come after the Biden administration in May launched the IIJA-funded Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange to get more sources of clean energy connected to the national power grid. The Act includes $65 billion in clean energy investments.

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