Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In the words of Elon Musk, founder of Tesla motors, “I am nauseatingly pro-American,”
And that is why I am pro clean-energy. I am not in the renewables business to save the Sulawesian shrew rat or protect the Chinese river dolphin (not that I have anything against them). I am in solar because installing, running and fixing clean energy technologies like solar panels must be done on-site, creating jobs here at home.
I am in solar because I understand that the clean energy economy is the future — and if we don’t lead now, other countries challenging us for leadership will, and we’ll be left in the dust. If we happen to save some rats, dolphins and the planet along the way, so be it. What matters most is winning the race for leadership in the clean energy economy and winning the new businesses and the jobs that go with them.
In the short term, we cannot deny the immense power of fossil fuel or its employment capacities, but we also cannot fail to plan beyond the energy needs of today — and we need our public servants to understand both. Remember our recent banking scandal? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives traded our international monetary stability for a series of inflated paychecks and golden parachutes because they were focused on their short-term profits. Some farsighted legislation might have saved us a lot of trouble.
We need federal policies to keep our focus on the future. We need a comprehensive, “all of the above” energy solution. Because today, the United States is falling behind the pack, and China is moving out in front. In the words of our own U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy.”
With 20 million jobs at stake globally, China poured $440 billion into clean energy last year. But here’s the real kicker: Already home to one-third of global solar manufacturing capacity and 400 solar companies, Chinese competition has reduced global solar prices by 30% and is forcing rivals to shift production facilities to China.
It’s no wonder.
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, deployment of new technologies — like wind and solar power — has the potential to support roughly 3.5 million jobs and generate trillions of dollars in revenue and energy savings.
So, where are we? Congress has a comprehensive energy bill drafted with bipartisan support. It is designed to transform our economy and set us on the path toward energy independence, creating and keeping jobs here at home. But Congress has yet to decide to act. Without action, Congress will hinder the United States’ opportunity to lead the single greatest market growth potential of the 21st century. With action, the United States will do what the United States does best: win.
I love the potential of clean energy, and the patriot inside me wants to see the United States regain its lead in the booming clean energy field and the international economy. I hope the patriots in Sens. Graham and DeMint want the same and will work to pass legislation that produces more energy here in America and prepares our country for the energy future.
Andrew Streit is president of the S.C. Solar
Business Alliance and Sales Manager for Sunstore Solar llc.