New US Energy Secretary Names Shah to Head Loan Office

The Biden administration wants green investment, jobs to stay stateside in emerging $23-trillion global market.


Newly confirmed US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has tapped Jigar Shah as the new head of the Department’s Loan Program Office. Shah, 46, is an author and clean energy advocate as well as founder of solar services company SunEdison. Most recently, he cofounded Generate Capital, a specialty finance firm focused on the renewables and sustainability sectors.

“He has written the playbook on how to drive the market towards clean energy solutions,” said Granholm during the reveal to attendees at CERAWeek by IHS Markit. “He is going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers. So, we are ready to invest in advanced vehicles and carbon capture and so much more. The possibilities are endless.”

Granholm, a former Michigan governor, sourced past successes of the loan program including monies that kickstarted construction of the first five utility-scale photovoltaic solar facilities as well as cash that assisted Elon Musk build his first production-scale Tesla vehicle factory.

“The once mighty Loan Program Office is, as of today, back in business,” she said. “Our loan authority, $40-billion worth, has helped some of America's bravest entrepreneurs get their best ideas off the ground and flourish into what they are today.”

Granholm wants the US to get off the bench and into the game when it comes to cashing in on the economic opportunities offered by the Biden administration’s ambitious plans for the nation to be a net-zero carbon emitter over the next 30 years.

The goal will require new technologies and more robust systems of carbon capture and sequestration, as well as new clean energy sources coming on line in the coming years. Granholm said the Department of Energy will no longer stand on the sidelines and will be one of the government’s “most fierce fighting forces” in pursuit of a carbon-pollution-free economy.

“President Biden has laid out very ambitious climate goals, which assume a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035, and a net-zero economy by 2050,” said Granholm. “It is a heck of an economic opportunity. And I say that, because a recent report indicates that the products that reduce carbon emissions are going to create a $23-trillion global market over the next decades. And the question for us all is where are those investments going to be? Are they going to be in China? Are they going to be in other economic competitors to us? You better believe that other countries are vying for this. So, are we going to get into battle? Or are we going to bring a knife to a gun fight? Joe Biden is demanding that we get in the battle on behalf of our people to fight for them.”

Granholm indicated the system of 17 national laboratories would be key to development of the new technologies needed to reach the administration’s goal of a decarbonized future.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee recently designed a device to make carbon capture more efficient using aluminum, and then found a way to manufacture it utilizing 3D printers. Outside Chicago, the Argonne National Lab is working on the next generation of battery technology that is twice as energy dense as today’s offerings.

The Secretary also pointed to the Department’s Applied Energy programs that help turn these resources into deployable technologies.