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Chu: America Faces a Choice to “Compete in the Clean Energy Race” or “Wave the White Flag”

November 3, 2011 - 10:36am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his speech to the Washington Post Live Smart Energy Conference today, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu highlighted the choice America faces on whether or not to take advantage of the huge economic opportunity and compete with countries like China in the clean energy race.

Excerpts and full text of remarks are below:

“Once again, there is a huge opportunity before us – a global clean energy market that is already worth an estimated $240 billion and is growing rapidly.  In fact, a very reasonable estimate is that solar photovoltaic systems alone represent a global market worth more than $80 billion this year.”

“China – like many countries – has learned from the U.S. how government can support critical emerging industries.  Last year, China offered roughly $30 billion in government financing to its solar companies, including $7 billion to Suntech.  At least 10 countries have adopted renewable electricity standards, and more than 50 countries offer some type of public financing for clean energy projects.  For example, Germany and Canada operate government-backed clean energy lending programs, and in the last several months, the UK, Australia, and India have announced plans to do the same.”

“America faces a choice today: Are we going to recognize the opportunity and compete in the clean energy race or will we wave the white flag and watch all of these jobs go to China, Korea, Germany and other countries?”

“The global competition is fierce, and support for innovative technologies comes with inherent risk. Not every company or every product will succeed, but that is no reason to sit on the sidelines and concede leadership in clean energy. Some in Washington are ready to throw in the towel and write off the clean energy industry.  They don’t think America can compete or they don’t think it’s worth trying. Others think that the best thing we can do is for the government to get out of the way and let the free market work.”

“To those in Washington who say we cannot or should not compete, I say: that’s not who we are.  In America, when we fall behind, we don’t give up. We dig in and come back. Why should we concede one of the biggest growing markets in the world that is in our sweet spot: technological and manufacturing innovation? America has the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy technologies and provide the foundation for our prosperity. We remain the most innovative country in the world ... but “Invented in America” is not good enough. We need to ensure that these technologies are invented in America, made in America and sold around the world.  That’s how we’ll prosper in the 21st century.”

Secretary Chu’s full remarks to the Washington Post Live Smart Energy Conference, as prepared for delivery, HERE.

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