Biden | US renewables policy is working

The US economic stimulus package will result in a doubling of renewable
energy capacity by 2012 while slashing the cost of solar panels and electric car
batteries, according to a new report released yesterday by the White House.

Speaking alongside energy secretary Steven Chu, vice president Joe Biden said
the government’s $787bn stimulus package was helping to accelerate the
development of innovative new low-carbon industries across the US.

"The government plants the seeds, the private sector nourishes and makes it
grow," Biden said. "And in the process, if we’re as innovative as we’ve been in
the past, we launch entire new industries."

detailed the impact of the $100bn of stimulus funding earmarked for
investment in energy, transport, medical research and smart grid projects.

It predicted that investment in renewable energy projects such as solar and
wind farms will lead to a doubling in renewable energy capacity from 28.8GW at
the end of 2008 to 57.6GW by the end of 2011.

Over the same period US manufacturing capacity for renewable energy
technologies is similarly expected to double to 12GW.

Significantly, the cost of renewable energy technologies is expected to fall
with the Biden predicting that stimulus dollars invested in solar research and
manufacturing will help to ensure that the cost of solar power is on a par with
conventional grid power by 2015.

The report also outlines how government funding has helped to revolutionise
the US auto sector, noting that between 2009 and 2012 the number of US factories
producing electric vehicle batteries will increase from two to 30. As a result,
the US is expected to command 20 per cent of the global market for advanced
vehicle batteries.

In addition, the report predicts that the scaling up of battery manufacturing
capacity will ensure that battery costs are halved, cutting the current price
premium for electric vehicles in half in the process.

The report comes at a crucial time for US climate change and renewable policy
as Democrats consider how to maintain momentum across the sector as the stimulus
package is scaled back.

Senior politicians are currently debating how to revive or reform the
controversial climate bill that was blocked by the senate earlier in the summer
and now appears to be on hold until after November’s mid-term elections.

Meanwhile, environmental, business and trade union groups are all looking to
increase pressure on congress to adopt some form of climate change legislation.

Most notably the BlueGreen Alliance, a campaign uniting trade union and
environment groups, has this summer undertaken a three-week bus tour and
publicity campaign accusing Republicans of blocking environmental legislation
and calling on congress to adopt emissions targets and increase support for
green jobs.

The United Auto Workers group this week became the latest union to join the
group, arguing that ambitious climate change legislation would provide boost to
the US car industry.

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