Headshot of cortney piperBy Cortney Piper, Executive Director 

It has been a monumental year for the advanced energy sector in Tennessee.

Ford broke ground on BlueOval City, its largest and most advanced auto production complex to date. Three cleantech accelerators now operate in East Tennessee. Building on months of battery supply chain announcements, LG Chem recently announced it would establish a multi-billion dollar new cathode manufacturing facility for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

There is so much to celebrate.

TAEBC: Champion of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy 

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is the state’s primary champion of advanced energy economy and a membership-driven organization. And like the industry itself, TAEBC has seen major growth and development this past year. We added 13 new members – including Hitachi Zosen Inova USA, which is relocating its headquarters to Knoxville, and SkyNano, an Energy Mentor Graduate, which has experienced significant traction in 2022.

TAEBC also added Jim Mosby, President of FirstBank’s Nashville North Region, to its leadership team. Mosby joined thanks to a new partnership with FirstBank for the launch of the Energizing Tennessee podcast that explores the latest news and insights about the advanced energy sector. Listen and subscribe to hear from Ford’s BlueOval City, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Pilot Company and more!

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to reiterate that TAEBC’s commitments to our members, leadership and stakeholders remain as strong as ever. Here are the ways we have fulfilled each of our four commitments.

1. Help Tennessee become the #1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs

The advanced energy industry offers high-quality jobs for Tennesseans, which includes the state’s goal to become the number one in the country for the EV supply chain.

During March and April 2022, TAEBC executed a briefing tour about the 2021 Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report. The tour involved 10 advanced energy workshops and briefings with federal and state government officials. TAEBC is now well positioned as a go-to expert and resource for Tennessee government officials, staff and organizations on advanced energy economic development and deployment activities.

This past summer, TAEBC held a virtual Statewide Automotive Innovation Roundtable where EV and mobility experts discussed statewide partnerships, workforce development and what the future has in store for the EV supply chain. The event featured speakers from TVA, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Vanderbilt University, University of Tennessee Knoxville (UT) and more. Watch the full event on our YouTube channel.

This fall, we welcomed Kel Kearns, plant manager at BlueOval City Electric Vehicle Center, to the Energizing Tennessee podcast to discuss the automaker’s multi-billion dollar EV investment in West Tennessee. Listen to “Becoming #1 in the Southeast for EV supply chain” today!

2. Support TVA and local power companies’ efforts to become the energy companies of the future

TAEBC supports TVA and our local power companies’ efforts in their transition to a cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient energy future. 

For this year’s Lunch and Learn with TVA, we invited TVA’s Amy Henry, Director of Transformative Innovation, and Andrew Campbell, Senior Project Manager, to discuss TVA’s memorandum of understanding with ORNL to advance decarbonization technologies. If you weren’t able to attend, watch the virtual event here.

On the second episode of Energizing Tennessee, I spoke with TVA’s Joe Hoagland, Vice President of Innovation and Research, about TVA and TDEC’s statewide EV fast-charging network. Listen to “How can we electrify Tennessee? Getting over 200,000 EVs on Valley roads by 2028” on our website or wherever you get podcasts.

At Opportunities in Energy, TVA’s Abby Henson joined representatives from Silicon Ranch, the City of Maryville and DENSO to talk about their partnership to advance the statewide solar portfolio. 

TAEBC is also participating in the new, collaborative information exchange, Utility of the Future Information Exchange (UF-IX), in preparation for TVA’s next Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). TAEBC, TVA leadership and other stakeholders will meet until July 2023, discussing issues ranging from distributed generation to building a more sustainable, decarbonized power system.

3. Foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups

TAEBC is proud to support advanced energy technologies and startups. In FY2022, TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network (EMN) had 40+ mentors and 21 startups. These startups raised $9,660,613 and created over 50 jobs.

Two notable startup highlights include Eonix announcing an exclusive, three-year collaboration with Schrodinger to accelerate its technology and Active Energy Systems closing a $1 million seed funding round and moving into a new facility.

This year, TAEBC also partnered with and provided mentors for the UT Research Park’s Spark Cleantech Accelerator through our Energy Network program. Cohort One graduated this past summer, while applications for the second cohort will open in January 2023.

One of the key figures in the launch of Knoxville’s third cleantech accelerator is Tom Rogers, president and CEO of UTRP. TAEBC was proud to award Rogers with the 2022 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award at Opportunities in Energy.

TAEBC’s EMN program continued its partnership with the Innovation Crossroads program at ORNL and hosted the annual Innovation Crossroads Showcase during Innov865 Week 2022. 

4. Inform the national energy agenda

TAEBC is a Tennessee-focused organization, but one of our core commitments to our members is to inform the national energy agenda by educating public officials about advanced energy opportunities and informing policy that expands and strengthens the industry.

At our 2022 Annual Member Meeting, Melissa Klembara, DOE’s acting Deputy Director for Portfolio Strategy in the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, served as our featured speaker. Klembara spoke about her goals for the new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations and specific ways DOE supports advanced energy innovation. Watch her talk.

TAEBC also joined the National Coalition of Clean Energy Incubators, a group representing innovative clean technology incubators. When the group hosted its first annual National Cleantech Innovation Advocacy Day in Washington D.C., TAEBC attended, meeting with Members of Congress and Senators to discuss additional support for cleantech innovation.

After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, TAEBC not only applauded this decision but submitted public comments to the IRS regarding the implementation of the Act’s clean energy tax incentives, with input from our membership.

Looking ahead into 2023

This time next year, I imagine we will have even more to share – new facilities, partnerships and advanced energy opportunities. Isn’t that exciting? 

Furthermore, I cannot close out this update without once again thanking our members and partners. We are thankful for your expertise and passion. I look forward to continuing our work and seeing the advanced energy industry reach new heights in 2023.

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