<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1109988332988077&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Skip to content

Keeping Climate Goals On-Track Amidst Rising Energy Demands

Keeping Climate Goals On-Track Amidst Rising Energy Demands

Commentary on the state of electricity needs in the U.S. and what a coalition from Illinois is doing about it

CTEC_Q2_2024 Update_1

The Rising Cost of Electricity Needs

After two decades of relatively stable energy demand, the United States is witnessing a notable surge in electricity needs. Recent forecasts by electric utilities anticipate a doubling in power needed by 2028 to serve the rapid expansion of data centers, resurgence of manufacturing, and increase in electric vehicles.

The already strained electric grid simply can’t keep up, and energy providers are planning to bring more oil and gas online as clean energy and its corresponding infrastructure is not as readily available. This makes it more difficult to meet climate goals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will put additional pressure and urgency on transitioning to cleaner energy sources. The extent of this problem is well outlined in a recent New York Times article: A New Surge in Power Use Is Threatening U.S. Climate Goals

mHUB and a broader ecosystem of innovators, thought leaders, and community organizers rallied together in 2021 to develop critical solutions for getting ahead of this problem in Illinois. 

The result was the Clean Tech Economy Coalition (CTEC) that developed six projects across three pillars focused on growing Illinois’ energy infrastructure for producing, distributing, and storing clean energy as well as the necessary grid modernizations to support this. CTEC made it to Phase 1 of the Economic Development Association $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge and continues to build momentum for Illinois’ investments in climate and energy innovation.

Momentum of the Clean Tech Economy Coalition  (CTEC)

CTEC is driven by forward-thinking action, understanding that developing solutions is never too early when you’re dealing with complex systems alongside the breakneck speed of technological advancement. Rather than dampen our appetite for energy-intensive innovation, CTEC aims to accelerate the speed at which Illinois builds the infrastructure and clean energy to support it. 
The $189M CTEC plan outlines a path forward for Illinois with projects falling into three core pillars:

  • Pillar 1: Innovation and entrepreneurship, including tech transfer and equitable access to resources for commercializing new technologies
  • Pillar 2: Production capacity, including workforce training and supply chain development
  • Pillar 3: Planned and equitable deployment, including sequenced grid updates and grid accessibility

The coalition is led by mHUB in partnership with the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory and includes:  Bright Star Community Outreach, Elevate Energy, Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative, Evergreen Climate Innovations, Center for Neighborhood Technology, City Colleges of Chicago, Climate Vault, College of Lake County, Cook County Government, Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, mHUB, Northwestern University, Richard J. Daley College, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

mHUB’s $50M acquisition and build-out of 1623 W. Fulton Street in 2023 anchored the initial momentum of the coalition, which to-date has secured over $62M in funding from public, private, and philanthropic partners. Current milestones are outlined below.




Progress in Pillar 1: Innovation & Entrepreneurship

  • mHUB completed a $50M financial package to purchase, renovate, and open a new innovation center at 1623 W. Fulton Ave; received $778k from the EDA to build out specialized labs for prototyping clean energy technologies; and received $150,000 to support pilot-ready climate and energy startups from the DOE and an additional $100,000 to support energy infrastructure innovation.
  • Elevate Energy received a $5M commitment from Pritzker philanthropies to fund their Envisioning our Clean Energy Future campaign to grow diverse clean energy contractors and inclusively build the necessary talent pipeline for increased clean energy creation, distribution, and management.
  • Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce is under contract to purchase a property identified for their future Innovation Hub to advance manufacturing skills and create targeted workforce development opportunities within cleantech innovation for Black and Hispanic residents of Englewood.
  • Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative received philanthropic funds towards its Terra Firma land care initiative to transform over 400 acres of vacant land on Chicago’s mid-South side. For one of the program’s many initiatives, the organization partnered with ComEd to train community members to manage a sustainable ag-pod for year-round, sustainable food production.
  • The University of Chicago is currently under construction on the 38,000 SF Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship science incubator in Hyde Park Labs which will further resources innovators in the state with state-of-the-art facilities and networks.

Progress in Pillar 2: Production Capacity

  • Daley College received a $525,000 Grant from the ICCB to develop EV infrastructure installation skills training and an Electrical Engineering Technology associate degree for clean energy and related careers. Daley College has also collaborated with a consortium of Illinois Community Colleges to apply for a 3-year Department of Energy Grant to develop the Industrial Assessment Center skills training programs and to perform assessments for energy efficiency opportunities in manufacturing facilities in collaboration with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center.
  • Bright Star Community Outreach received philanthropic funding for its workforce initiative programs. BSCO is currently hosting a workforce entrepreneurship program with 25 participants receiving re-skill and up-skill training, dedicated workshops, business plan development, and networking opportunities as well as a stipend for participation and a laptop, among other tools, to prepare for success beyond the program.
  • Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville identified a site for its future Clean Energy Lab to train students in Southwest Illinois for a statewide energy infrastructure economy

Progress in Pillar 3: Well-Planned & Equitable Deployment 

  • Northwestern University has identified a potential school site for a future microgrid installation for research, planning, and deployment of grid modernizations in an environmental justice community.



What’s Next for the Clean Tech Economy Coalition?

With $62M in funding already secured for projects within the coalition, CTEC will seek an additional $127M from the State of Illinois and through federal opportunities such as the Infrastructure Investments & Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS & Science Act

The coalition continues to align with the State’s historic policy achievements through the Climate Equitable Jobs Act, REV Act, and $400M tax incentive package for cleantech manufacturing. With strong progress in the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Pillar 1, the coalition will seek to highlight infrastructure and grid modernization goals alongside the stability of workforce and supply chain in the state.

The urgency of the climate crisis and the escalating demand for energy necessitate a bold, collective response. The future of our planet hinges on our ability to innovate, adapt, and mobilize toward cleaner energy solutions, alongside good policy, giving energy providers the rights means and reasons, faster, to choose clean energy sources. The work of CTEC, underpinned by the tireless dedication of its project partners, exemplifies the collective effort needed to ensure a clean energy future.

How to Get Involved 

If you are interested in learning more about how to engage with the Clean Tech Economy Coalition, visit: https://2025cleantech.com/

The coalition is interested in continuing to build its network or partners to advance Illinois’ competitiveness for key funding opportunities and to build stickiness across the regions vast assets for energy innovation.