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Northern Virginia Technology Council Titans' Breakfast

September 25, 2008 - 3:43pm

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Remarks as Prepared for Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Gary.  It is good to be here with all of you this morning to talk about America's energy future.

You certainly don't need reminding that our world is confronting a rapidly growing demand for energy, rising prices, and an urgent need to produce and use energy more cleanly and efficiently in ways that do not harm our shared environment - or our security.

And these demand pressures, though already acute, will only increase with time. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world's primary energy needs will grow by more than 50 percent by 2030.

Our challenge, as the President has made clear, is to develop and deploy strategies and technologies to increase our energy efficiency, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to enhance the nation's energy security.  But this challenge also presents us with a number of opportunities.

The strength and vibrancy of the American economy is rooted in our ability to innovate, in our commitment to discover, to create, and to change.  And, in my judgment, the U.S. Department of Energy has a major role to play in these efforts.

The way I see it, a fundamental responsibility of the federal government, specifically the Energy Department, which I consider to be largest, perhaps most significant scientific and technological enterprise ever assembled, is to recognize that cost and lessen it.  But I also believe that the private sector, which you all represent, shares in this responsibility.

Throughout our nation's history our collective - public and private - ingenuity has been responsible for dramatically improving the efficiency of our industries and for creating entirely new ones.  It has made us safer and more secure in the world, led to remarkable improvements in our health and well-being and made our lives more convenient and comfortable.

But opportunity brings with it responsibility. The simple fact is our lives today - our homes, our offices, our vehicles and our industries - consume an enormous amount of energy.  So we must to address a central truth: the production and use of energy has a significant cost - both in monetary and environmental terms.

You are an integral part of our national energy agenda. And this agenda consists of several major tenets.

The first is improved energy efficiency throughout our economy. All businesses - small and large and across all industries - must look for ways to use energy more efficiently.  This applies not just to our most energy-intensive industries, but also to our offices, our construction industries, and our transportation sector.

By way of just one example, the Energy Department provides funding for 26 Industrial Assessment Centers located at premier engineering universities around the country.

These centers are working to increase the energy efficiency of small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers and will send out teams to provide no-cost assessments of a facility's energy use, waste and productivity.  Within 60 days, the plant manager will receive a confidential report detailing the team's analysis and money-saving recommendations, along with estimates of related costs and payback periods.

As a testament to the value of the program, over the past five years, over $100 million in annual energy cost savings have been implemented at about 2,500 plants - that's an average annual savings of about $40,000 per plant.

At the same time that we continue to bring about dramatic changes in how we use energy, our nation also must continue to pursue the development and widespread deployment of renewable energy technologies and alternative fuels.

And, in my judgment, it is important that the federal government, the nation's largest energy consumer, not only lead, but lead by example.

Last year President Bush issued an Executive Order that directed federal agencies to cut their energy consumption by almost one-third.  I committed that the Energy Department would meet and exceed his mandate and we created the Transformational Energy Action Management, or TEAM Initiative to do it.

Through TEAM we intend to realize at least a 20 percent reduction in energy intensity and ensure that new on-site renewable generation accounts for 4 percent of our electricity production.  Renewable energy, "green technology", is a heavy influence on these efforts.

I'm pleased to announce that last month the Environmental Protection Agency awarded DOE the Energy Star rating for our building.  And just last week I led the ribbon-cutting at a new solar array located on the roof the Energy Department's main building down on Independence Avenue.

Now you can't see it from the street - it's actually integrated into the roof - but it is, I understand, one of the largest of its type in the Washington, D.C. area.  At peak operating levels, it will give us about 8 percent of the power we need in the Forrestal building.

This new solar array is just one real world, regional example of the way new green technologies are showing us the way to the future.  For the real challenge is for use to lead the efforts to invent new ways to produce and consume energy, an effort we call the President's Advanced Energy Initiative, or AEI.

Solar is a key component of that strategy, with a goal of making photovoltaic-based electricity cost-competitive by 2015.  But our renewable energy investments obviously extend beyond it.  U.S. wind power generation capacity has grown faster than any other country's for three years in a row, a trend we are proud of and intend to continue supporting.

We also must use our nation's abundant coal supply in ways that reduce - or perhaps eliminate - its environmental impacts through technologies like carbon capture and storage. In all these areas, the Energy Department is engaged with the private sector to make a real difference in how we utilize our conventional resources.

On Monday the Department announced a solicitation for up to $8.0 billion in federal loan guarantees for projects that employ advanced technologies that avoid, reduce or sequester emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gases in the area of coal-based power generation, industrial gasification, and advanced coal gasification facilities.

This marks the third round of solicitations for DOE's Loan Guarantee Program, which encourages the commercial use of new or significantly improved energy technologies and is an important step in paving the way for clean energy projects.

In total, we've announced the availability of over $38 billion in new loan guarantees aimed at getting large-scale clean-energy projects built as quickly and efficiently as possible.  And we've established innovative programs to bring venture capital-sponsored entrepreneurs into our National Laboratories to help commercialize new technologies.

This is part of what I believe is a critical effort to closely partner with academia and the private sector and we have made remarkable progress over the past few years in these areas and many others.

By way of example, I would highlight the Department's sizeable investments - totaling over $1 billion since the start of 2007 - to spur the growth of a robust, sustainable next-generation biofuels industry, and in particular, to tap the great potential of cellulosic biofuels derived from nonfood sources.

As part of that effort, the Department's Office of Science is investing over $400 million (over five years) in three cutting-edge Bioenergy Research Centers that are attracting world-class scientists and engineers from academia, industry and our National Laboratories to work to apply the great strides we've made in human genomics to our energy challenges.

I am pleased to say that they are already showing signs of progress after less than a year in operation.

We have also invested in large- and small-scale biorefinery projects that will help bring down the cost of biofuels production and make it possible for them to have a more immediate beneficial impact on our energy security.

We're placing a great deal of emphasis on renewables and alternative fuels. But until we achieve transformative breakthroughs - which we are on our way to doing - our world will continue to operate on fossil fuels: oil, natural gas and coal, as well as liquefied natural gas and nontraditional fuels like oil shale and oil sands.

That is why we must find, develop and use these resources more cleanly and efficiently.

We must expand our domestic oil production, including in the Outer Continental Shelf, as the President has called for and do so in an environmentally-responsible way.

America's industries have pioneered the technologies used in environmentally-responsible drilling.  In my judgment, we can produce oil and gas and protect the environment.  We do not have to choose one or the other.

And finally, any realistic approach to addressing our energy and climate challenges must also acknowledge that new nuclear power plants must be built in this country.

These are, in essence, the major components of our national energy strategy: dramatically improved energy efficiency; an aggressive move to renewable energy and alternative fuels; more efficient and environmentally sustainable use of fossil fuels; and advanced nuclear power.

To do all this effectively, we are actively pursuing new approaches to getting beneficial technologies developed and out into the marketplace quickly.  And underscoring all of these efforts is our partnerships with academia and the private sector.

Under President Bush's leadership, we have increased funding for basic research for the Department of Energy's National Laboratories and in conjunction with universities.

Addressing our energy challenges and making the most of the opportunities they create absolutely requires intense, strategic partnerships between industry, government - at all levels - and academia.  In short, we need everyone involved.  That's really my message to you today.

Government has a critical role to play, but cannot do this alone.  And likewise, the business community cannot solve this alone.  Nor can our nation's premier scientists - at our universities and at the Department of Energy's National Laboratories - confront this challenge alone.  We must all work together.  And I ask you for your support.

Thank you.

Location: McLean, Va., Hilton Hotel

Media contact(s): Kristin Brown, (202) 586-4940

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