Leaders from some of Ohio’s largest corporations, fast-growing companies, research institutions, and local economic development programs unveiled a new report that outlines a vision for creating more than 20,000 jobs and sparking more than $25 billion in investment in Ohio through energy innovation.
Synapse Energy Economics hosted the event to release Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment, completed in partnership with Case Western Reserve University’s Great Lakes Energy Institute. A diverse group of advisors from across the business, regulatory, academic, labor, and manufacturing sectors in Ohio shared their energy insights and experiences to develop the report.
“Investing in smarter, cleaner, and more efficient energy is simply good business,” said Asa Hopkins, Principal Associate, Synapse Energy Economics, primary researchers for the report.
The report addresses five opportunities for growth in Ohio:
- Attracting investment from corporate clean energy leaders
- Transforming transportation
- Building clean electricity generation
- Boosting Ohio’s energy productivity
- Harnessing a 21st century electric grid
Integrating clean tech and energy innovation into Ohio’s manufacturing base will be critical for economic growth. Fortunately, Ohio has a strong foundation: With over 15,500 manufacturers producing $106 billion of annual industrial output, Ohio is a manufacturing powerhouse that ranks third in manufacturing employment nationally.
“The Powering Ohio report is useful to anyone interested in understanding the clean energy opportunities in Ohio that will elevate our state as a leader in job creation and application of technologies,” said William Alexander, President of GEM Energy. “Ohio is well-positioned to embrace the opportunity of clean energy with its ability to attract new companies, create innovative energy solutions, manufacture clean energy systems as well as provide labor to construct, install and maintain those systems.”
The report highlights examples of corporate leaders investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and transportation transformation:
- General Motors will use a 100-MW wind farm in Ohio to power its plants in Ohio and Indiana, as part of its commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. will build up to 20 MW of onsite solar at its Polaris Corporate Center
- Campbell Soup Company installed 9.8 MW of solar at its plant in Napoleon
- Owens Corning powers its Toledo headquarters with an on-site 2.4-MW solar array
Successfully transforming Ohio’s energy economy will depend on complementary actions related to transportation, manufacturing, building clean electricity generation, increasing energy productivity, and operating a smart, connected grid. By doing so, the report finds Ohio could attract significant investment, including:
- More than $6 billion in capital investment and 2,000 jobs in electric drivetrain facilities
- $4.2 billion in capital investment and 1,000 direct jobs by growing onshore wind deployment to 3 GW by 2026
- $450 million per year in renewably-powered data center construction
Business leaders are already investing in energy initiatives that reduce costs. Walmart Inc., for example, has saved more than $100 million by installing more than 1.5 million LED lights and upgrading more than 5,000 rooftop heating and air conditioning units nationwide.
“We are deeply committed to driving inclusive economic growth in Ohio and around the globe, and capitalizing on sustainable and clean energy opportunities is an important part of this effort,” said Alex Derkson, Vice President, Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase & Co. “By leveraging our expertise and resources, we are working to develop innovative programs, products and services that not only make our own operations more environmentally sustainable, like we are doing here in Ohio, but help our clients fulfill their sustainability goals as well.”
Ohio’s transportation sector is also beginning to undergo sophisticated changes. Smart Columbus has leveraged $50 million in grant funding to rally $500 million in committed investments by the private sector to enable an automated, connected, shared and electric transportation system.
“Through the grant awarded to Smart Columbus by the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies as the winner of the first-ever Smart City Challenge, Smart Columbus is pursuing several energy efficiency initiatives endorsed by today’s report,” said Jordan Davis, Director, Smart Cities for the Columbus Partnership. “We’re working to prove that sustainable initiatives are not only good for the environment, but for our residents, our infrastructure and our shared prosperity.”
Each year, Ohio colleges and universities graduate more than 20,000 science, technology, engineering, and math students and is home to 34 accredited engineering programs. By offering expanded energy innovation and technology programs, Ohio’s academic institutions will attract students from across the nation and retain a trained and talented workforce in the state.
“The development and growth of the clean energy industry isn’t happening in a vacuum. It’s an extremely competitive sector of the global economy, with companies and investors fighting to acquire technological and funding advantages,” said Grant Goodrich, Director of the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University. “Ohio is blessed with a highly productive workforce, a strong manufacturing presence with robust supply chains, and innovative companies in the energy and tech sectors. But in order to secure future investments in clean energy, or from Fortune 500 companies with renewable energy mandates, Ohio will have to demonstrate a commitment to creating an environment where clean energy technology is welcome and thrives.”
Energy experts believe Ohio can become a center for design and manufacturing of the sensing, communicating, and controlling devices necessary to take advantage of the economic possibilities of a smart electric system. Developing and deploying a next generation electric grid in Ohio will also give customers new options to control their energy costs.
“This transformation will not happen overnight. But the steps Ohio takes to make progress in industrial innovation, efficiency, and clean electricity will build upon each other to steadily invigorate Ohio’s economy,” said Hopkins. “They will also help Ohio avoid being left behind as other states embrace tomorrow’s technologies.”
The Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment report will be followed by an action-oriented roadmap of the bold, concrete actions necessary for Ohio to realize this energy vision, to be released later this summer.
Read the report on the Powering Ohio website.