The global clean energy marketplace is expanding rapidly, but the competitive position of American industry is at risk because of increased competition abroad and uncertain policies at home, according to a report released earlier this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In a news release on the report, an Athens area clean-energy leader, Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun Solar, advocated state and local policies to encourage development of solar and other alternative-energy sources.
The study, "Innovate, Manufacture, Compete: A Clean Energy Action Plan," states that revenue in the clean-energy sector worldwide could total $1.9 trillion from 2012 to 2018. Yet, according to the news release about the report, roundtable discussions with more than 100 U.S. industry leaders reveal that the country is at a crossroads: "Private investment, manufacturing and deployment of renewable power have been constrained because of the lack of a long-term, consistent energy policy."
To strengthen America's global competitiveness in this growing economic sector, the release continues, the report outlines policy recommendations, including investments in energy research and development, extension of key manufacturing incentives, and establishment of a national Clean Energy Standard that sets milestones for deployment of renewable and other clean sources in the electric power sector.
"Industry is telling us in no uncertain terms that the United States needs to adopt clear, consistent, long-term energy policies that allow American businesses to thrive, make our country more energy secure, and advance environmental imperatives," Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's Clean Energy Program, stated in the release. "Our research shows that there is a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity in the clean-energy sector. U.S. industry has the capacity to be a leader, provided we have the right policies in place. It's time for Congress to support a comprehensive energy strategy by delivering long-term certainty for businesses and investors in renewable power."
"State and federal policies are critical to a stable solar investor climate, which leads to an expanding market and business climate," said Greenfield of Third Sun Solar. "These policies should be extended and increased so that companies like ours can continue to grow Ohio's economy."
Clean-energy markets are large and growing, offering the U.S. an important opportunity for innovation, investment, job creation and manufacturing, the news release said. Pew's research projects that revenue associated with installation of wind, solar and other renewable power is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 8 percent, rising from $200 billion in 2012 to $327 billion annually by 2018.
The U.S. position in the industry is constrained by numerous challenges, according to the Pew report, including tight credit markets, growing international competition, and an uneven playing field with fossil energy sources.
"It's difficult to get funding today," Jeff Metts, president of Astraeus Wind Energy, which makes turbine components, said in the news release. "We need some stability in this market."
Aaron LeMieux, founder and chief executive of Tremont Electric, added in the release: "To compete effectively for clean-energy jobs and manufacturing, the United States must adopt national policies that stimulate diverse domestic clean energy investments and production."
Based on input and empirical research, the report recommends that the U.S.:
• Establish a clean-energy standard to guide deployment and investment for the long term.
• Significantly increase investment in energy research and development.
• Enact a multiyear but time-limited extension of tax credits for clean-energy sources.
• Level the playing field across the energy sector by evaluating barriers to competition.
• Renew incentives for domestic clean-energy manufacturing.
• Create a strategy to expand markets for clean-energy goods and services abroad.
Pew's research in developing these recommendations included empirical data by Pike Research, a leading market-research firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean energy technology markets, and qualitative evidence gathered through roundtable discussions with stakeholders across the country, the release said.