North America: Leading the way

Back in January 2009, President Barack Obama – in his inaugural address – called for the expanded use of renewable energy to meet the twin challenges of energy security and climate change. It was a prescient stance, but even he can’t quite have envisaged that, 14 years later, all three subjects would be so entwined and pivotal to the political and economic agenda.

Despite the geopolitical and economic challenges of the last year, many positive elements have aligned in the US, principally the cost of wind, solar and natural gas have all fallen dramatically. Initiatives, partnerships and standards have proliferated, underpinned by heavyweight policies.

By the time President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took up office early 2021, the renewable foundations were firmly built, although environmental issues were mounting. They hit on a brainwave. What if energy policy could tackle two key issues at once, investing not only in clean technologies that address climate change but also safeguard jobs for the post-fossil-fuel era?

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was born, signed into law in August 2022, redrawing not only US policy, with a staggering $370bn worth of incentives and tax credits, but causing ripples across every continent as companies are enticed with setting up production in the US.

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