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Secretary Chu's Remarks at the World Renewable Energy Forum Press Availability - As Prepared for Delivery

May 16, 2012 - 12:45pm

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I want to thank Tom Clark from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and Andrew Oliver from RES Americas for joining us.

Renewable energy representatives from across the country are gathered in Denver this week because Colorado is helping to lead the way in clean energy.  The state is among the leaders in installed solar capacity.  It has had a renewable portfolio standard in place for many years.  And it’s a hub for clean energy manufacturers from GE to Vestas. 

Today, we want to talk about the importance of Congress taking action to extend federal clean energy tax credits like the Production Tax Credit and the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit that are supporting companies and workers here in Colorado and across the country.

America can’t afford to miss out on the clean energy opportunity.  This exhibit hall is a sign that the clean energy economy is here, it’s real, and it’s growing.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that trillions of dollars will be invested globally in renewable energy in the coming decades.

The market is getting bigger, the technology is getting better, and costs are coming down. The question is no longer if clean energy will become competitive with conventional forms of energy; the question is, “When will it happen?” 

We have the opportunity to create a second Industrial Revolution that will put us on the path to a sustainable world.

The first industrial revolution grew out of the invention of the steam engine, and most importantly, the huge improvements in its efficiency by James Watt in the 1770s. The coal powered steam engine provided the engines that powered the railroad “iron horses,” steam-ships and factories. A stage of this revolution was electrification and the transition to petroleum-based energy sources for transportation energy.

I would define a “second industrial revolution” as the transition to affordable and sustainable energy coupled with digital communication, management and manufacturing.

A century ago, Albert Einstein showed the world that the mass of a particle has an intrinsic energy given by the famous relationship E = mc2: its energy is equal to the particle mass time the speed of light, squared. In the second revolution, we must transition to energy machines that are clean and commercially competitive: E = mc3

We’ve made a lot of progress during the past few years. Since 2008, we’ve nearly doubled U.S. renewable generation from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.  And we have reclaimed the title from China as the world’s leader in total clean energy investments. 

But other countries are also competing for leadership.  In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, more than 80 countries had renewable energy policies in place last year.

The global competition is fierce, and we can’t ease up now. We are at risk of falling behind unless we make a sustained national commitment to supporting our domestic clean energy industry.

It’s not enough for us to invent the technologies of the future, we also need to build and deploy them here. When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: “Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world.”  That’s why President Obama has called on Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit and expand the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.

The good news is that America remains the world’s most innovative country, and the clean energy revolution is ripe for U.S. leadership. 

Thank you.  Now, I would like to invite Tom Clark to say a few words.

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