Boosting Exports of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technology

From the earliest days of the Obama administration, we have been working to promote innovation and competitiveness in high-growth sectors like renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE).  President Obama’s Recovery Act, for instance, made the single largest investment in clean energy in our nation’s history. Over $90 billion was invested through the Recovery Act to promote everything from advanced wind turbines and solar panels to new battery technologies and the modernization of our electricity grid. 

Thanks to these investments and the ingenuity of U.S. businesses, America is on track to meet the president’s goal of doubling the country’s installed capacity of renewable energy technologies by 2012

But spurring domestic clean energy innovation to meet America’s needs is only half of the picture.

Empowering U.S. business to create and deliver those new technologies to energy-hungry foreign markets is the other.

Think about this for a moment: To meet the energy demands of the 9 billion people expected to be living on our planet in 2050, the world will need to construct two 1,000-megawatt power plants every single week.

And even that undersells the challenge.

The world’s climate can't afford for us to build two coal plants a week for the next 40 years.  We’ve got to create technologies that draw energy from cleaner sources, and we've got to get them to places like India and China that will have the most intense energy demand.

Last week, we took an important step in ensuring this happens, when I announced the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative – an effort of eight separate U.S. Government agencies – co-chaired by the Departments of Commerce and Energy – to focus our resources on meeting the exporting needs of these emerging industries. 

Among other things, this initiative will provide new financing options for RE&EE exporters; enhance market access for U.S. RE&EE technologies in foreign markets; increase the number of trade promotion events for U.S. RE&EE companies and significantly improves the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. Government export promotion programs.

In fact, we are already taking action. I met last week with 24 members of the newly formed Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee, who will help us ensure that the implementation of the Initiative is as effective as possible. In addition, we have created a new online portal for RE&EE companies, which aggregates information on news, trade events and market research from all U.S. Government agencies into a single, easy-to-use website.

Over time, the new Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative is designed to increase the competitiveness of U.S. RE&EE companies in key markets and provide the export opportunities U.S. companies need to hire new workers and promote economic growth for the American people.

That’s precisely the message I’m delivering all over the country.

The potential for new business and new job creation in renewable energy and energy efficiency industries is astounding – and the Department of Commerce and the rest of the U.S. Government are eager to turn that potential into reality.  

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative gets us one step closer to a future in which America leads the global clean energy economy and benefits from the sustainable, well-paying jobs that comes with that leadership.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of Commerce
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