Power From Imagination

This week’s National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas showcased promising new technologies, products, and approaches to our energy future.

But one consistent theme rose above the chorus: if America doesn't choose to lead in the development of clean renewable technologies, we will become followers to the rest of the world.

Our energy system is a patchwork of investments, primarily in coal and natural gas, made over the past 80 years to promote the priorities of days gone by. It has left the nation unable to rapidly integrate renewable energy including wind and solar, vulnerable to hostile third parties, and increasingly unable to guarantee a healthy planet to future generations.

There's one simple fact: America is continuing to grow and so will our energy needs. Forward thinking solutions are within reach and the decisions made over the coming years will have lasting impacts. It is imperative that renewable energy play a leading role in our nation's energy plans.

In his remarks at the energy summit, Vice President Joe Biden made this point strongly, observing, "We are at an inflection point in our energy history." If we make smart decisions today we can lead the world in clean energy.

Jumpstarting innovation will require a concerted effort to change the pattern of our energy investments by funding research and development efforts that in turn will leverage private dollars. For example, the Treasury Grant Program dollars continue to be matched multiple times over, making it a critical element to driving renewable energy forward. And it will require new policies and approaches to deployment  that ensure development and infrastructure is guided to the right places to minimize impacts on the ground, reduce local controversy and prevent unnecessary delays.

In the face of a shaky economy, we must be sure we are making sound investments with federal money. Unfortunately, critics of clean energy see these investments as code for more spending. But such statements fail to grasp what’s at stake -- a leading share of the $2 trillion global clean energy economy, a point made clear in a new report issued today by the White House. American companies will fall further and further off the global pace in developing clean energy technologies and we will lose the jobs that go with them.

The speed at which something can go from inconceivable to inevitable is increasing every day. By investing in technology innovation, eliminating market distortions, and helping guide market standards we can make clean energy a profitable and viable part of our energy future.