As we celebrate Manufacturing Week throughout the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), it’s important to recognize how we’re working to ensure the foundational role that manufacturing plays in today’s world and will continue to play in the clean energy future we’re building. The U.S. industrial sector is central to our nation’s economy. It provides us with the products society relies on every day—from the cement used to build our roads, to the steel and iron in our buildings, railways, and appliances. But this vital sector also accounts for one third of the nation’s energy-related CO2 emissions. These emissions stand in the way of our clean energy future and disproportionately impact America’s most vulnerable communities.
As U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm often says—“we can’t live without the industrial sector—nor can we live with the levels of carbon pollution it creates.” As the needs of our economy evolve, and opportunities emerge in global industrial markets, U.S. industry can meet this moment by innovating, scaling, and manufacturing these products in a more sustainable way that reduces their carbon footprint and moves us closer to a net-zero economy for all Americans.
Building a new clean-energy economy and industrial sector is one of the most significant growth opportunities of the twenty-first century. At the Department’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO), we’re seizing this opportunity with strategic investments that will drive innovation, lower costs, and create good-paying jobs for American workers across the country.
Investing in American Ingenuity & Innovation
Thanks to the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act, DOE now has enormous resources to invest in industrial decarbonization. However, the road to moving early-stage innovations from ideas to technologies on the factory floor is long and requires more investments than the industrial sector can afford to shoulder alone. Additionally, some of the technologies the United States will need to fully decarbonize the industrial sector either do not exist yet or are only in the nascent phase of development.
This is where IEDO comes in. IEDO thrives at the intersection of foundational research and commercialization and is prioritizing and accelerating the adoption of new technologies while driving the innovation needed to realize our clean energy future. We are investing in fundamental science, research, development, and initial pilot-scale demonstration projects (RD&D)—and coupling those investments with the targeted education, workforce development, and technical assistance required to increase adoption.
At IEDO, we’re asking ourselves tough questions—how do we redesign steel furnaces that have been optimized over nearly two hundred years? Or reimagine foundational materials like Portland cement that produce carbon dioxide when they are manufactured?
To answer these critical questions with innovative solutions, we’re funding transformative projects identified through careful analysis efforts, such as the Department's Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, and shaped through on-the-ground stakeholder engagement with manufacturers and communities. And we’re already making progress toward our decarbonization goals.
In June, IEDO announced $135 million in federal funding for 40 projects across 21 states that will advance technologies to decarbonize American industry and help create good-paying jobs. We also announced the Department's seventh Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute in May. The Electrified Processes for Industry Without Carbon (EPIXC) Institute out of Arizona State University will foster an innovation ecosystem around electrification of industrial heat and advance the goals of the Department's Industrial Heat Shot. In August, we announced $28 million for 10 projects to decarbonize the nation’s water treatment sector.
Partnering with Industry to Increase Efficiency & Reduce Emissions
Even for solutions that exist today, like energy efficiency or onsite clean energy, increasing adoption of new technologies on America’s factory floors is no easy feat. The industrial sector is complex and diverse—and implementing solutions looks different for every industrial subsector, facility, and industrial process.
That’s why we’re working directly with industry to tailor solutions and ensure facilities and businesses have the technical expertise to deploy these new, best-in-class technologies while also training the workforce for this clean energy transformation. Through our Better Plants Program, we’ve helped 270 manufacturers save more than $10 billion in energy costs and keep more than 130 million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere.
Our new network of Onsite Energy Technical Assistance Partnerships will help industrial facilities integrate clean energy technologies—such as battery storage, geothermal, industrial heat pumps, and more—directly into their buildings and plants to help them reduce emissions, increase efficiency, and reduce operating costs.
These workforce development and technical assistance programs will help prepare the existing 11.4 million American manufacturing workers and the future workforce for our clean energy future.
An All-Hands-on-Deck Approach
The challenges we face and opportunities that abound are too vast to address alone. To reach our climate goals across the industrial sector by 2050, we need investments at every stage of the innovation pipeline. This will be an all-hands-on-deck approach and IEDO is working in lockstep with offices across DOE on Department-wide industrial decarbonization efforts.
Earlier this year, we launched the Technologies for Industrial Emissions Reduction Development (TIEReD) Program to identify and accelerate the development of the full suite of technologies that will be needed by net-zero-emissions manufacturers—investing in fundamental science, research, development, and initial pilot-scale demonstrations projects. We’re also collaborating with the Department's Industrial Demonstrations Program to ready our most transformative industrial technologies for at-scale demonstration and deployment on America’s factory floors.
As IEDO’s new Director, I’m excited to take the helm of this incredible organization. This is a critical moment for our nation and our planet, and I’m confident that IEDO and its passionate and talented team are more than up for the challenge.
Through bold thinking and action, we will move the country from what was to what will be. At IEDO, we believe that our clean energy future will be built on a foundation of clean materials manufactured here, in the United States. With the help of you—our partners, stakeholders, and communities—we will continue to transform ideas into real-world impact and make big strides on the road to a decarbonized industrial sector.