The energy transition is here. The world won’t wait. As politicians argue about infrastructure and spending in Washington, private industry is taking the future into its own hands.
In a sense, the parties in D.C. are arguing about a reality that already exists. Politicians are still debating what infrastructure looks like, struggling for a definition and consensus while business leaders establish the importance and viability of renewable energy as they build the future.
Interestingly, the real debate in Washington, whether they realize it or not, is this: will either party do what is necessary to accelerate the energy transition, or will private industry have to do it alone, risking falling behind the rest of the world? We still have the opportunity to enter the next decade as a leading nation in renewable energy, but the clock is ticking.
Here in the Midwest, there are a number of renewable projects on the books, from a massive wind project in Michigan’s Shiawassee County to a number of projects in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana that include both wind and solar. In West Virginia, an EV start-up has been inundated with requests for vehicles, while Tesla has become the most valuable automotive company in the world.
Just as important, but often overlooked, is the move to more efficient transmission. Companies like Direct Connect have already broken ground on high voltage direct current lines that will ultimately reduce the 8-12% loss in power that our outdated grid coughs up in summer heat. The project has received the green light in Iowa and has the support of landowners whose land plays a key role; these lines will be exclusively underground. Many landowners will also benefit from leasing properties to wind and solar farms that will help feed the line with renewable energy.
Grid-scale change doesn’t get the same interest as electric vehicles, and this is where the government could have an immediate impact. Part of the Biden administration’s proposed American Jobs Act includes ample funds to purchase huge fleets of electric vehicles for federal government agencies. Instead of directly subsidizing firms, proposals like this one provide a carrot that manufacturers can compete over and chase. If that part of the legislation sneaks through, expect domestic firms like Ford and GM to lead the way in pursuit of those contracts and drag the EV industry along with them.
We’re working in a number of industries to help private companies invest in renewables, lower energy expenses, and lead the way forward. Keen can help right now, and we’ll be here to ensure private industry can make the most of federal investment whenever Washington catches up.
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