America’s Next Great Industry – The Renewable Energy Industry

America’s Next Great Industry – The Renewable Energy Industry

At the White House this morning, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke made a compelling case for America’s next great industry – the renewable energy industry. Speaking at the Clean Energy Economy Forum, Secretary Locke told an audience of top administration and business leaders that clean energy is key to creating “the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century.” We couldn’t agree more. Emerging environmental industries have the potential to create billions, if not trillions, of dollars of new economic growth and millions of new jobs this century.

But, who will own that production and those jobs? It’s certainly not a settled point. As Locke rightly pointed out in his remarks, Europe and Asia are “seizing the opportunity” and investing heavily in renewable energy. That commitment is laying the groundwork for a flood of private investment. In fact, clean energy investments in Asia surpassed the Americas for the first time ever last year. This trend needs to be reversed – and fast. China and the other “clean-tech tigers” continue to sprint ahead in the clean energy race and show little sign of slowing down. While the U.S. historically has not been accustomed to playing catch up, that is exactly the position we’re in today. However, if we act now, America can establish itself as the global leader in this burgeoning industry, but not without the right policies like a price on carbon and the national adoption of a strong renewable electricity standard, low-cost renewable energy financing and increased federal procurement of renewable energy.

As the Senate decides what will be in the climate and energy package that Majority Leader Reid intends to bring to the floor in the coming weeks, we hope that these policies are given proper consideration. Without them, the private sector will have little incentive to devise the innovations necessary to make our clean energy future a reality.

The issue of clean energy will be high on the agenda next week as Secretary Chu hosts the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial meeting on July 19-20. ‘Doctor Solar’ himself, Charlie Gay, will participate in the meeting. Be sure to check out Clean Tech, Applied for a full recap on Tuesday.

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