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CEM: You Asked, We Answered

July 29, 2010 - 4:15pm


Last week, we invited you to submit your questions on the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter.  We received a diverse set of questions, which we presented to two of the key decision makers here at the Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs David Sandalow and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi.

jsalsman (via Twitter): What is @energy's position on  (editor: links to a plan that claims that 100 percent of the world’s energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030 )  Is a 30% renewable standard by 2020 reasonable?

Cathy Zoi: The amount of renewable energy potential in the United States isn't the issue – there's technically enough sunshine in just a 95 miles square swathe of land in Nevada to supply all of the United States' electricity needs. Our challenge is putting the policies and technologies in place to make clean energy cost-effective and abundant nationwide. It's not a question of "if" we can generate more renewable energy here in the United States, it's a question of "how" best to do it. How we will bring clean energy technologies to bear at a massive scale. How will we build out a smart grid brimming with new technologies to manage and transmit this influx of clean, renewable power from where it's generated to where it's used. And how will we deploy these clean energy technologies cost-effectively and in a way that supports a new clean energy industrial revolution here at home.

Our historic investments in research and development are lowering the costs of clean energy technologies. But we also need national policies like a renewable electricity standard – one that lets utilities and project developers plan and deliver a supply of clean energy for the long-term – like 29 states and DC already have. And it's only with continued robust investment in R&D to lower costs and strong supportive policies that we can achieve our clean energy goals.

William (via e-mail): How is the U.S. supposed to take a lead internationally in energy solutions when we lag behind in development and sponsored support?

David Sandalow: The United States is a world leader in science and technology generally, and energy science and technology specifically. The Recovery Act included more than $80 billion for clean energy – the largest one-time energy investment in U.S. history. With this historic down payment, we aim to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology and accelerate deployment of clean energy. Yet the Recovery Act is just that: a down payment. It alone is not sufficient to drive the kinds of investment we’ll need to reach our long-term goals. To transition to a clean energy economy, we must create the appropriate incentives that make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. That means putting a price on carbon pollution. Clear targets and stable rules that will allow American industry to confidently scale up clean energy infrastructure and remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Mark (via e-mail): How will the initiatives launched at this Ministerial affect the average American citizen? Will they make it easier for them to personally contribute to a clean energy future?

David Sandalow: Cheaper electric bills. More jobs. Less pollution. For example, through the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliances Deployment (SEAD) initiative, the United States will work with other countries to improve the energy efficiency of common appliances such as TVs. By working together, countries will be able to help manufacturers scale up production of super-efficient appliances. That means Americans will be able to purchase these energy- and cost-saving appliances more readily and more cheaply. The Global Superior Energy Performance initiative will help companies improve the energy efficiency of their building stock, saving money and creating jobs.

John Schueler is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Energy