Economic officials from several US states have stepped up efforts to lure European clean energy businesses across the Atlantic, touting deep tax breaks available to foreign developers despite a bitter backlash from EU leaders.
Delegations from Michigan, Georgia, Ohio and other states have toured Europe armed with details of juicy subsidies offered by the Inflation Reduction Act, the administration of Joe Biden’s landmark climate legislation passed in August.
“I don’t think we’ve actively recruited companies as intensely as we are now,” said Justin Kocher, director of international business for JobsOhio. Ohio officials met with clean tech companies in Germany, Italy and Belgium in the past four months.
The IRA will provide about $370bn worth of subsidies for clean energy, marking America’s most ambitious effort to tackle climate change, but has triggered furious criticism in Brussels and allegations that the US is discriminating against EU companies.
Valdis Dombrovskis, Europe’s trade commissioner, said last week that the fight against climate change should be done by “building transatlantic value chains, not breaking them apart”.
But the campaign by US states and localities has intensified, including visits to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week by the governors of Michigan, Georgia and Illinois, as well as West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who was one of the IRA’s architects. Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, was seen pitching his state as a clean-tech investment destination at a lunch hosted by the forum.
“I have been astonished by the many activities from state governments, from business development agencies, state-owned business development agencies, which have been trying hard to lure us in,” said Gunter Erfurt, chief executive of Meyer Burger, a Switzerland-based solar modules manufacturer.
“If the EU does not come up with something similar [to the IRA] then we may continue growing outside,