Biden has a massive pile of loan money for his energy revolution — and can’t spend it all before November

By Kelsey Tamborrino, Brian Dabbs | 04/08/2024 07:03 AM EDT

The DOE loan program that bankrolled Solyndra and Tesla has gotten a huge cash infusion under Biden. It’s facing an uncertain future if Donald Trump wins.

Photo illustration of a stopwatch with a dollar overlayed on top. The background features pictures of solar panels, an agriculture crop, trees, and wind turbines.

POLITICO illustration by Jade Cuevas/Images by iStock

The office running a crucial part of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda has Congress’ approval to lend more than $200 billion for next-generation energy projects — from solar farms and batteries to hydrogen production and lithium mining.

So far, it’s given the go-ahead to a little more than $25 billion. And even as the administration envisions issuing tens of billions more in the next two years, most of the program’s potential will almost certainly remain untapped come Inauguration Day — a reality that may leave its fate in the hands of a President Donald Trump.

The gap between the Energy Department lending power and the money it has approved to date illustrates both the scope of Biden’s climate ambitions and the staggering challenge of achieving them. Early in his term, Biden persuaded Congress to approve roughly $1 trillion in programs to tackle climate change, rebuild U.S. manufacturing, restore the nation’s infrastructure and best China in chips technology. Now, his agencies are racing to get the money out the door.


For DOE’s Loan Programs Office, the roughly $25.8 billion in conditional and final loans and loan guarantees it has announced during Biden’s presidency represents a huge burst of activity after the program went largely fallow in the Trump era.