Chart: US sets new record with $71B in clean energy investment

In the first quarter of this year, private investors poured 40% more money into clean energy and electric vehicles than they did in Q1 2023.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

Last year was a record year for clean energy investment in the U.S. — and this year is off to an even stronger start.

In the first quarter of 2024, private investment in clean energy and electric vehicles reached $71 billion, a new quarterly record for the country. According to a recent report by the Clean Investment Monitor, a joint project of the Rhodium Group and MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, the figures for Q1 represent almost a 40 percent increase from the first quarter of 2023.

The report categorizes clean energy investment into three buckets: manufacturing emissions-reducing technologies, deployment of clean energy and industrial decarbonization technologies, and retail sales — purchases of clean technology by individual households and businesses.

Retail made up the largest investment, with $31 billion in sales of zero-emissions vehicles, solar and storage, and heat pumps registered in the quarter.

Deployment of clean energy and industrial decarbonization was the second-largest segment, with $24 billion in investment in Q1, driven largely by utility-scale solar and storage deployments. The fastest-growing slice of the segment came from emerging technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture, and sustainable aviation fuels, which attracted $6.3 billion in total across the period, a 37 percent increase over the previous quarter and a fivefold increase relative to Q1 2023.

Manufacturing is the smallest segment, with just $17 billion in private investment in Q1, but it has seen the steepest rise in investment in recent quarters. The electric vehicle supply chain, including critical minerals, batteries, vehicle assembly, and charging equipment, dominated the clean manufacturing sector, making up 85 percent of those $17 billion invested. Investment in battery manufacturing alone grew by 36 percent from the previous quarter to hit $11 billion.

Clean energy and EV investments now account for more than 5 percent of total U.S. private investment in structures, equipment, and durable consumer goods, up from 3.7 percent in the first quarter of last year, the Clean Investment Monitor found.

But further growth is necessary. According to a report by the Clean Investment Monitor released earlier this year, while zero-emissions vehicle sales are on track to meet domestic climate goals, clean energy deployments are not. The report calls for average annual capacity additions of 70 to 126 gigawatts between 2025 and 2030 — that’s more than twice the amount of clean energy the country added last year. Ramping up the rollout of clean energy will require private investment to keep breaking records in the quarters to come.

Maria Virginia Olano is chief of staff at Canary Media.