Clean Energy -- Retaining Our Competitive Advantage

March 17, 2011
12:30 PM
Opening Statement - March 17, 2011
Clean Energy: Retaining Our Competitive Advantage
“Today’s hearing is to gain insights into the investment environment here in the U.S. as well as abroad for manufacturing and deployment of clean energy technology.  Our competitors are moving quickly to secure an advantage in this growing market.  We want to thank our witnesses for providing valuable testimony on this issue, and making recommendations, as we try to put together policy that will keep us from being left behind.
“I’ve remarked before on the significant challenge we face in energy in the coming decades.  Our current energy sources not only endanger our long-term prosperity, but also leave us reliant on unstable regimes, to which we are transferring billions of our wealth every year.  Obviously this is not a sustainable situation, and we have a moral obligation to address it as soon as possible.  Dealing with the consequences of this is not something we should pass on to future generations, but we should deal with in a forthright way.
“The testimony today further bolsters the case for action.  It’s clear that countries such as Germany, South Korea, and China are devoting substantial resources to securing their place in what promises to be a multi-trillion dollar market, as the developing world increases its appetite for energy in the coming decades.  In my view, the losers in the clean energy technology race will be those who do not participate aggressively.  Competition between countries will largely take place in bringing increasingly affordable innovations to market, setting off a cycle where clean energy sources become more and more affordable compared to incumbent technologies, and the market grows to more developing countries. 
“Unfortunately, although the United States remains a great source of innovation in the world today, it’s not clear we’re going to reap the benefits of that innovation, or even that we will retain our advantage in innovation.  Our competitors are making a compelling case to investors and entrepreneurs that it’s good business to develop there rather than here in the United States.  As the best minds follow those investments, the likely result is that the next waves of innovation may take place there as well.  And the next generations of innovative energy technologies that will determine who will lead the world in this competitive race.
“So, in that sense, the investment choices we make now will shape the world in which our children and grandchildren live.  The longer we wait to address our clean energy challenges, the higher the hill will be for them to climb.  I look forward to hearing what you can tell us about our current position and what more we can be doing to ensure our future leadership in this very competitive environment.”
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