Why Joe Biden is invoking a war power to build heat pumps and solar panels

“the president plans to use the Defense Production Act to boost clean energy in the United States by putting a two-year freeze on tariffs for solar panels coming to the country from Southeast Asia and simultaneously scaling up the domestic production of clean energy technologies.

This is the latest in a series of moves that show the White House is beginning to treat climate change and clean energy as national security issues. It’s also the kind of thing climate activists have been asking the Biden administration to do for months. The executive actions could bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the country while also making the US less dependent on foreign oil and gas, particularly as the war in Ukraine continues.”

“Defense Production Act (DPA) authorization specifically targets solar technology, heat pumps, insulation, green hydrogen, and grid components like transformers. Those might not seem very similar to, say, repurposing automobile production lines to build tanks, but in the past few years we have seen the definition of national security shift to encompass more than just military spending. It now includes everything from the manufacture of equipment to treat Covid-19 to baby formula. Biden’s latest move sends a message that clean energy technologies are worth investing in because they are critical to the security of the country, and the government is willing to support their production even if the market would prefer cheaper imports.”

“More than 230,000 people work in the American solar industry as of 2020, mostly in installation, and “the vast majority of those jobs depend on solar imports,” according to Stokes, who is also the senior policy counsel at the electrification nonprofit Rewiring America.

Hundreds of solar projects around the country had been put on hold in the last two months while developers waited to find out if they’d have to pay billions in tariffs. The newly announced freeze, however, should allow those projects to move forward immediately, while also giving American solar manufacturers time to ramp up production to meet the needs of future projects.”

“the DPA authorization also includes funding to ramp up the production of four other technologies: green hydrogen technology, which can be used to store clean energy and clean up carbon-heavy industries; grid components like transformers, which will help build a more modern, resilient grid that can handle an influx of renewable energy; heat pumps, which use electricity to heat and cool homes more efficiently than fossil fuel-dependent systems like furnaces; and building insulation, which is an overlooked tool in fighting climate change, making homes more energy-efficient and keeping them heated and cooled for longer.”