As States Advance Clean Energy Projects, 2024 Looms as Pivotal Year

Industry incentives, regional collaboration, and infrastructure projects offer opportunities

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As States Advance Clean Energy Projects, 2024 Looms as Pivotal Year
A person wearing a helmet and harness climbs a ladder on a metallic wind turbine tower.
Centura College wind turbine certification coordinator Tracey Butts climbs a wind turbine in Norfolk, Virginia. States, including Virginia, are starting to prepare for the build-out of the offshore wind industry by investing in worker training programs.
The Pew Charitable Trusts

The U.S. is on the cusp of a major transition to clean energy, and 2024 is shaping up to be a critical year for the successful deployment of the technologies that will drive that transition. According to the White House, over $300 billion in federal funding from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has already been delivered to states and localities in the form of grants and tax incentives. The onus is now on states, local officials, developers, utilities, and community stakeholders to continue to take advantage of these new and existing resources. This will require the creation of policy incentives, community engagement, industry investment, and utility commitments to clean energy.

States and industry alike should support three promising and necessary decarbonization pathways— offshore wind, an electric vehicle charging network, and electric grid infrastructure updates—to boost economic development throughout the U.S. and provide benefits to communities, consumers, and the climate.

A line of nine large, shadowed windmills rise from the sea under an orange-tinted sky.
Offshore wind farms could eventually power millions of homes throughout the United States with clean, renewable energy, but ambitious investments in this and other clean energy technologies are needed for them to fulfill their promise.
Photodsotiroff iStockPhoto

Offshore wind spins forward

Even in the face of supply chain bottlenecks and inflation in 2023, the federal government and many states remain committed to the long-term potential of offshore wind (OSW). Propped up by an ambitious national goal of generating 30 gigawatts (GW) of OSW energy by 2030—which could power 10 million homes—the domestic offshore wind sector should advance in the coming year.

The nation’s first large-scale OSW farms—Vineyard Wind off of Massachusetts and South Fork Wind off of Rhode Island—will begin generating clean energy in 2024 and collectively power close to 500,000 homes annually once at full capacity. Also next year, Dominion Energy will start construction of its Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, slated to be the largest wind farm in the country once completed, with 176 turbines.

Further, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management—the federal agency tasked with facilitating responsible energy development off U.S. coasts—is on schedule to hold 2024 OSW lease auctions in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and off the Oregon Coast. Amid the headwinds mentioned previously, these auctions show ongoing interest in an industry whose supply chain alone has the potential to generate $109 billion in revenue this decade.

States can tap into this economic opportunity by attracting companies looking to build the components and vessels the OSW industry needs. New York has already begun to do so: In October, the state committed $300 million toward the development of two component manufacturing facilities. Experts are urging other states to follow that lead in the coming year, whether through assessing their supply chain, creating incentives for companies looking to locate new OSW manufacturing facilities, or establishing funding streams for OSW workforce training programs in anticipation for the growing industry. South Carolina and Louisiana have both initiated supply chain studies, which should be completed in 2024.

A person wearing a grey sweater and a yellow scarf plugs an EV charger into a car.
As the number of consumers driving electric vehicles (EVs) grows, vehicle range remains a primary concern. Construction of charging stations for EVs has thus far struggled to keep up with the acceleration in EV sales.
Unsplash

Setting the foundation for more EVs

According to BloombergNEF, in 2024 the percentage of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids on U.S. roads will continue to increase, largely due to easier access to federal tax credits for car buyers and increased production by automakers eager to tap into the growing market. That will boost the need for a reliable, expansive charging network to support drivers and ease range anxiety, which is a significant concern for consumers, according to polls.

Thanks to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula program, created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, installation of charging stations roughly every 50 miles on America’s major roads has begun and will accelerate next year. Ohio, which has received $18 million in NEVI funds for 27 charging stations, was the first in the nation to break ground on fast charging stations along major freeways.

NEVI is a crucial starting point, but the onus is also on state leaders to increase charging availability in other areas, including underserved communities and on rural roads. In 2024, states can replicate others, such as Oregon, that have been successful in establishing public-private partnerships to place charging infrastructure at state parks and tourist sites, providing incentives for rural charging, or making investments and code updates to promote EV charging at workplaces and multiunit dwellings.

A person cloaked in shadow, wearing a cowboy hat and t-shirt, stands in front of an array of electrical transmission towers. The sky has the pale light of either sunset or dawn.
With an increase in the number of EVs on the roads and in charging station construction, there comes an increase in demand for electrical power and a need to improve capacity and revitalize our electric grid.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Grid retrofits for increased clean energy capacity

This growing charging infrastructure—coupled with a record-high queue of solar and wind energy projects waiting to be connected to the grid—means the U.S. must ensure that the electrical grid can meet this new demand. Earlier this year, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that more than 10,000 projects—and 1,260 GW of renewable capacity—await interconnection.

Fortunately, with funds recently allocated through the federal Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership (GRIP) program—also created under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—states are primed for grid upgrades that will bring an estimated 35 GW of renewable energy online and invest in over 400 microgrids. And other grid modernization projects are kicking off in 2024, including Xcel Energy’s $102 million plan to make transmission upgrades in the Midwest to reduce congestion within the grid and improve renewable energy adoption.

States and regional partners have ongoing opportunities to facilitate transmission planning and grid enhancements in 2024. Some have successfully ushered in more requirements for utilities to create long-term grid and transmission modernization plans for the coming years—strategies more states can deploy in the coming year. Additionally, states can use federal funds, available through early 2024, to prioritize grid upgrades. This includes $2 billion available in second-round GRIP competitive funds and $760 million in Transmission Siting and Economic Development program funding.

The U.S. has launched its transition to a clean energy economy, fueled in large part by strong innovation and federal investment. In 2024, state leaders can play a pivotal role in accelerating this build-out and fulfilling the promise of economic development and major emission cuts.

Brian Watts is a principal associate and Courtney Durham Shane is a senior officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ energy modernization project.

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