By Renewable Energy Focus staff
In a pledge to make sure there is a market for US industry, the President says: “I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.”
Obama did not, however specify what those clean sources are, but he has previously included cleaner coal, nuclear and natural gas in this definition. If compiling nuclear, natural gas, hydropower and renewables, the US is already getting 55% of its energy from ‘clean sources’.
With booming developments in countries such as India and China, the US’ position as leader in many industries are threatened. Obama remarks: “Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility.”
In order to ensure American jobs and businesses, the President says the nation needs to roll up its sleeves: “We know what it takes to compete for jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world…
“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from.”
Obama remains confident that the US can reach its goals, saying clean technology is this generation’s ‘Sputnik moment’.
“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t even there yet. NASA didn’t exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.
“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people.
“Already, we’re seeing the promise of renewable energy.”
Cutting Fossil Fuel Levy, Spurring Cleantech
To spur further success with clean energy technologies, the President is challenging America’s scientists and engineers that “if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.”
He mentions renewable energy research such as using sunlight to produce fuel for vehicles at the California Institute of Technology. “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”
However, such promises need funding, something that is hard to find with the US’ huge deficit. Obama’s perhaps boldest statement of the speech, urges Congress to cut the dollars given to oil companies:
“We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”
This could prove a difficult pill to swallow for the Republican-led Congress – especially considering the strong voice of the oil lobby.