The largest climate funding package in U.S. history is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk , with initiatives that could permanently alter the nation’s energy system. The implications across the clean energy space are vast, with the bill touching just about every industry from solar to wind, hydrogen, nuclear, electric vehicle and more nascent technologies. Beyond just the impact on the U.S.’ renewable energy development, there are global implications as well. “The United States Congress is taking real action on climate in our home market,” said Tom Steyer, the billionaire financier and 2020 presidential candidate. “I think that it has the absolute specific substantive impact and a gigantic impact in terms of America’s position, vis-à-vis the rest of the world and our global cooperation to solve this crisis,” he added. Clean energy stocks soar Clean energy stocks have been on a tear since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. announced their surprise deal at the end of July. The Senate swiftly passed the package just over a week later, with the House approving the bill on Friday. The deal follows months of gridlock in Washington, which had stalled and sidelined President Joe Biden’s climate crisis-fighting agenda. The sudden progress took Wall Street and climate executives alike by surprise. “I think right before this deal got announced, we, at that moment, were probably not that optimistic that something was going to get done quickly,” said SunPower CEO Peter Faricy. “The interesting thing to me is that there’s always been strong support for the clean energy part,” he added. Some renewable-linked initiatives have garnered bipartisan support due to strong buildout in Republican-led areas. Texas, for example, might be best known for its oil and gas fields. But the state led the country in new renewable projects last year. The bill passed Friday, called the Inflation Reduction Act, will have major implications for the solar industry. It will boost the Investment Tax Credit to 30%, and extend it at that rate for the next decade. The ITC and the Production Tax Credit, which is the equivalent incentive for the wind industry, have typically been approved in several-year increments, which has created a boom-and-bust cycle of sorts within renewable energy. SunPower’s Faricy said the extension of the ITC at the higher level is a game changer for the industry. “That’s the kind of action by the U.S. government that will actually accelerate the growth that we’re seeing now,” he said. Shares of SunPower gained 10.6% last week. Fellow residential installers Sunrun and Sunnova saw their shares rise 8.7% and 6.5%, respectively. All three are up more than 40% in the last month. Solar component providers like Enphase and SolarEdge could also see a boost due to a jump in demand as homeowners look to take advantage of the credits. This is especially true as utility bills rise amid a surge in commodity prices. The bill also includes a new credit for standalone energy storage, which could lift names like Fluence Energy and ESS Tech . Shares of both companies have jumped more than 70% in the last month. In addition to prompting consumers to go solar and utilities to add renewable energy, the Inflation Reduction Act also includes rebates for electric vehicles. There are some restrictions including around income and vehicle price, but it also expands the rebate to used vehicles. Analysts at Wells Fargo said Tesla and General Motors are big beneficiaries since they will once again be able to take advantage of the credits. Prior legislation had a cap at 200,000 vehicles sold, at which point companies no longer got to take advantage of the credits. Jumpstarting U.S. production But the bill doesn’t only prompt users to choose green energy products – it also incentivizes domestic manufacturing in an effort to establish and develop new supply chains. Solar panel manufacturers Maxeon Solar and First Solar shares have both seen their stocks add more than 70% in the last month. JPMorgan and KeyBanc upgraded First Solar to an overweight rating this week based on upside from the IRA. “We view the Inflation Reduction Act as the largest policy change in US history to accelerate growth in what we have viewed as an already inevitable energy transition to renewables,” the firm wrote Monday in a note to clients. Analysts led by Mark Strouse also upgraded shares of wind blade manufacturer TPI Composites to an overweight rating. NextEra Energy and AES Corporation , both utility companies with substantial renewable energy portfolios, have seen their shares climb 13% and 18%, respectively, over the last month. AES CEO Andres Gluski said the new legislation will create visibility across the clean energy ecosystem. “You want to have steady supplies – your factories building wind turbines or solar panels running optimally,” Gluski told CNBC. “This [the IRA] establishes this for a longer period of time – it’s very positive,” he said. The EV rebates are also tied to domestic supply chains. Over time, a larger and larger portion of the battery materials in EVs must be sourced from the U.S. or one of its free trade allies in order to qualify for the credits. Biden has called developing domestic supply chains for critical minerals a matter of national security. He previously invoked the Defense Production Act around mineral mining and refining, with the Inflation Reduction Act allocating additional funding for the DPA. Albemarle operates the only U.S. lithium mine currently in production. Lithium Americas and Piedmont Lithium are both in the process of developing mines, although each company is at least several years away from production. “I think tying the incentives to building a national supply chain and domestic supply chain is brilliant,” said Piedmont Lithium CEO Keith Phillips. He said that he was skeptical when he first heard of the deal between Sen. Manchin and Sen. Schumer given the many false starts around the Build Back Better plan. But now, looking forward, he’s optimistic. “I think it’s great for anybody producing critical materials in the U.S. and other friendly nations,” he told CNBC. But some have argued that creating domestic supply chains could hurt renewable energy buildout in the short-term based on the present lack of availability of these critical minerals in the U.S. “The bill dramatically encourages domestic production and discourages foreign imports,” noted Citi. “This can help boost domestic investment longer term, but also slows down certain decarbonization sectors in the shorter term that rely crucially on imports from China, like batteries, EVs, and solar.” Hydrogen stocks are also coming off a winning week, with the bill including funding to incentivize a green hydrogen industry. Names like Plug Power , Bloom Energy and FuelCell Energy all registered strong gains. The legislation, which includes $369 billion for energy security and clean energy provisions, passed the House by a 220-207 margin. The bill is a major victory for the Democrats ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. “This is a really great time for people who want to see the United States lead the world in making the positive transition to clean energy. There’s never been a better time,” said SunPower’s Faricy. – CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.
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