Empowering American Clean Energy and Efficiency Businesses

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In this week’s State of the Union address, President Obama once again made it clear that one of his top priorities is ensuring U.S. global leadership in the emerging industries of clean energy  and energy efficiency.

Clean energy not only represents one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century, it is also critical to our nation's ability to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and clean up our environment. 

To support entrepreneurs all across America who are developing clean energy and energy-efficient technologies – installing wind turbines and solar panels, developing improved batteries for hybrid cars and putting the pieces of the next generation electricity grid together – the  Department of Commerce is focused on several key areas.

Increasing the U.S. Market Share in the Global Clean Energy Sector

Commerce oversees the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative (RE4I), a multi-agency effort to significantly increase renewable energy and energy efficiency exports. The Initiative includes twenty-three commitments from eight federal agencies for new programs, actions, or deliverables that will help address the major export barriers facing U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) companies. Exports are already a central part of the administration’s economic recovery strategy. President Obama’s National Export Initiative aims to double total U.S. exports by 2014, in support of millions of American jobs. To help U.S. companies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors find new markets, we have launched a new online exporters guide and website, export.gov/REEE.

Advancing the Civil Nuclear Trade Initiative

The Civil Nuclear Trade Initiative supports the U.S. nuclear industry’s endeavors to rebuild its manufacturing base and capture new markets by identifying the industry’s most pressing trade challenges and opportunities and coordinating efforts to address them. In 2010, Commerce’s Civil Nuclear Trade Initiative led a group of U.S. civil nuclear companies to central and Eastern Europe and facilitated the signing of nuclear energy cooperation agreements with Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Expanding Business Opportunities and Building America’s Competitiveness

Investments in the green economy are essential to improving our nation’s competitiveness. Commerce accelerates environmentally-sustainable economic development through its Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund. In 2010, we obligated $26.9 million through the fund to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, reuse/recycling/restoration, and green building projects. These projects help advance the green economy by promoting emerging industrial clusters related to energy, cutting-edge environmental technologies, sustainable manufacturing systems, and green building practices.

Encouraging Green Entrepreneurship

Through our Green Technology Pilot Program, Commerce has accelerated nearly 1,000 patent applications for green inventions. Program statistics show that applicants who use the program can obtain a patent much more quickly as compared to the standard examination process, which can take several years. Earlier patenting of these technologies can help inventors secure funding, create businesses and jobs and bring vital green technologies to market much sooner.

Advancing Climate and Weather Services to Support Economic Prosperity and Protect Public Safety

Commerce is committed to helping businesses, government and communities prepare, manage and adapt to climate impacts. We do this by advancing our scientific understanding of the Earth’s climate system. We monitor greenhouse gas emissions and deliver climate information to the renewable energy sector and others who need it. To strengthen climate science and services, Commerce is proposing the establishment of a Climate Service office to help government and business leaders make sound, smart investments in clean energy and efficiency based on the world class data and research from Commerce department scientists.

Creating a Supportive Market Environment

By developing essential measurement technology, delivering waste-cutting, productivity-enhancing sustainability tools to smaller manufacturers, and competitively awarding seed grants that foster clean-technology innovation, Commerce is helping scale up clean energy in America industry pick up the pace and move further along this critically important path. In particular, these programs focus on supporting a nation-wide interoperable smart electric power grid, sustainable manufacturing, biofuels, technologies needed for net zero energy buildings, and accurate greenhouse gas measurements.

This is quite a few different initiatives. But there’s a thread that holds them all together.

They are all designed to empower American clean energy and efficiency businesses to grow and to hire.

We know government can’t solve all the problems facing our county. What we can do is help lay a foundation for growth and create smart incentives for private sector companies to build something special on top of that foundation.

Article by Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

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