Cortney's headshotBy Cortney Piper, Executive Director

In light of Valentine’s Day, I want to share a few advanced energy developments the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council loves and is excited about. From transportation electrification announcements to the continued support and growth of our members and leadership, the future is bright for the advanced energy industry in Tennessee.

1. Advancements in transportation electrification

I am happy to say Tennessee has made incredible progress in becoming the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain. A few years ago, Governor Bill Lee and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced this goal, and TAEBC is thankful for their leadership and vision in turning this dream a reality.

In 2021, Ford and SK Innovation announced a $5.6 billion investment to create one of the largest vehicle and battery manufacturing plants in the country at the Memphis Regional Megasite. The project is expected to create around 5,800 jobs and start production in 2025. 

Earlier this month, EV charging company Tritium announced it will build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, to manufacture its modular direct current fast chargers. This investment should create 500 new jobs in Tennessee over the next five years. At a federal level, the Biden administration announced a plan to allocate $5 billion to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program to build out a national EV charging network over five years.

All these developments indicate that transportation electrification will continue to be a vital driver of our state’s advanced energy economy. I look forward to what comes next.

2. Organizations committing to sustainability and advanced energy solutions

TAEBC is also excited about the continued good work of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s Tennessee Green Star Partnership (TGSP) program and companies across the state that are committing to ambitious sustainability goals and leveraging advanced energy technologies.

From companies that commit to net-zero targets to those that work with our members to utilize advanced energy solutions, TGSP’s program not only promotes the wellbeing of all Tennesseans, but it helps stimulate economic development, a key element of TAEBC’s mission.

3. Strategic partnerships that further innovation

Strategic partnerships that enable advanced energy innovation are a crucial component in the growth of this sector. TAEBC is proud to partner with the UT Spark Innovation Center at UT Research Park and other stakeholders on the launch of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator

This early-stage business accelerator will help clean-tech entrepreneurs and startups thrive and further the commercialization of their technologies in Tennessee and beyond. Applications are currently open until March 11 for interested companies with an anticipated start date in June 2022. 

4. Endless possibilities in a growing industry

It’s great to acknowledge TAEBC’s love for transportation electrification developments, a valuable state-led program and new strategic partnerships, but I think it’s also worth celebrating the sheer variety and innovativeness of the advanced energy industry in Tennessee.

From startups like SkyNano that are producing carbon nanotubes from power plant emissions to Silicon Ranch Corporation raising $1 billion in the past year to fuel its growth deploying solar solutions across the country, there are so many developments and companies worth celebrating. I’m proud to see so many entities – from small businesses to the Tennessee Valley Authority – betting big on the advanced energy sector. I believe there are endless opportunities for growth in the coming years.

5. TAEBC’s thriving membership and leadership

As TAEBC is a membership-driven organization, this list would not be complete without acknowledging the value each member brings to the table. In the past year, we have seen our membership grow to include new companies and people passionate about this robust sector. 

Members new and old have participated in events, initiatives and projects that support our mission of championing advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. Our leadership has continued to provide strategic advice and support, helping our organization grow and find new ways to further our work.

For those of you who love the advanced energy industry: Let’s continue to celebrate and champion this growing sector of our economy throughout 2022.

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