The following blog is by Brian Lombardozzi, Senior Policy Analyst for the BlueGreen Alliance.
On Tuesday March 26th the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI). This initiative is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to revitalizing America’s manufacturing sector and will focus on growing American manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting U.S. competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity. CEMI includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the DOE, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide DOE’s future funding decisions.
While many components of clean energy industry have been around for years, the concept of a distinct clean energy sector is relatively new. The concept and terminology dates to the early 2000s when concerns about climate change, energy security, and other factors helped stimulate the growth of a diverse set of clean energy industries. Since then, the clean energy sector has become a major economic force in its own right, and this initiative comes at a critical moment as global investment in the clean energy sector has grown nearly five-fold to over $260 billion in the last seven years and these markets will grow into the trillions of dollars in the years to come. Now is the time for the U.S. to assure that the energy technologies of the future are developed and manufactured in America for export around the world.
Shortly after the CEMI launch, DOE on Wednesday conducted a webinar, offering more detail on the areas of clean energy manufacturing that are especially ripe for growth. Libby Wayman, Director of CEMI provided information on the initiative. Alan Goodrich and Ted James of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gave a presentation on some of the analysis related to the wind, solar and batter industries. This type of industry analysis showing how the US can move ahead in these industries is one segment of services that CEMI will offer. There were about 150 participants who posed questions to the presenters. The webinar is available online here.
Approximately 26 percent of all jobs in the clean energy sector are involved in manufacturing, compared to just 9 percent of jobs in the economy as a whole. Manufacturing accounts for a majority of the jobs in over half of the clean energy sector. Several segments—including electric vehicle technologies, water efficient products, green chemical products, appliances, sustainable forestry products, lighting, recycled-content products, and energy-saving consumer products—are particularly manufacturing intensive, with roughly 90 percent or more of their jobs residing in manufacturing establishments. Manufacturing represents more than two-thirds of the jobs in the solar-related and wind energy segments as well.
The share of all manufacturing jobs engaged in clean energy sector production is also on the rise. From 2003 to 2010, clean energy manufacturers added 35,832, while U.S. manufacturers overall laid off 3.3 million workers. Clean economy manufacturing employment expanded at a rate of 0.8 percent each year (or 5.5 percent over the entire period); meanwhile, U.S. manufacturers at large shed jobs at a rate of 1.5 percent per year (for a growth rate of -10.1 percent over the period).
Like most manufacturing-intensive sectors, the clean energy sector is export intensive. In fact, on a per job basis, the clean economy is about twice as export-oriented as the national economy. According to one estimate, some $20,129 worth of exports is sold for every job in the clean economy, compared to just $10,390 in exports for the average U.S. job.
With the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, DOE is taking the appropriate steps to seize this opportunity to ensure U.S. leadership in the clean energy sector and advance the global competitiveness of American manufacturers. These steps will include:
- Increased funding for manufacturing research and development (R&D) across the board, specifically with the goal of growing the clean energy manufacturing industry in the United States.
- Increased focus on energy productivity resources for manufacturers, such as technology and practices for growing U.S. manufacturing energy productivity and competitiveness, including a suite of technical assistance and market leadership programs. This includes:
- Industrial Assessment Centers that offer no-cost energy efficiency centers for manufacturers, and the
- Better Plants Challenge, which engages U.S. manufacturers to reduce energy use by 25% over 10 years.
- Development of competitiveness analysis and strategies that inform R&D investments and other efforts needed to address key barriers to growing U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness.
- A Clean Energy Manufacturing Portal that will aggregate new resources to help manufacturers succeed.
- Regional and National Summits to gain input on national and regional priorities, identify key gaps and opportunities for growing U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness, showcase U.S. clean energy manufacturing activity, and explore national and regional models addressing these priorities.
- New Partnerships to improve U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness.
Staff at the Clean Energy Manufacturing Center (CEMC) will continue to engage MEP Centers and manufacturing companies on potential diversification and growth opportunities for manufacturing companies related to the CEMI.