Develop energy policy or lose out to foreign competitors, US government told

So warns Pew Charitable Trusts in a new report.

Revenue in the global clean energy sector worldwide could total $1.9 trillion from 2012 to 2018, the study said, yet roundtable discussions conducted with more than 100 US industry leaders revealed that low confidence in government policy is hampering investment.

According to business leaders, the country is at a crossroads with private investment, manufacturing, and deployment of renewables constrained because of the lack of a long-term, consistent energy policy.

Aaron LeMieux, founder and chief executive of Tremont Electric, said: “To compete effectively for clean energy jobs and manufacturing, the United States must adopt national policies that stimulate diverse domestic clean energy investments and production.”

The report outlines a number of policy recommendations, to strengthen America’s global competitiveness in this growing economic sector, including investment in energy research and development, extension of key manufacturing incentives, and establishment of a national Clean Energy Standard that sets milestones for deployment of renewable and other clean sources in the electric power sector.

“Industry is telling us in no uncertain terms that the United States needs to adopt clear, consistent, long-term energy policies that allow American businesses to thrive, make our country more energy secure, and advance environmental imperatives,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Programme:

“Our research shows that there is a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity in the clean energy sector. US industry has the capacity to be a leader, provided we have the right policies in place. It’s time for Congress to support a comprehensive energy strategy by delivering long-term certainty for businesses and investors in renewable power.”

Pew’s research projects that revenue associated with installation of wind, solar, and other renewable power will grow at a compound annual rate of 8%, rising from $200 billion in 2012 to $327 billion annually by 2018.

The report said that US position in the industry is constrained by numerous challenges, including tight credit markets, growing international competition, and an uneven playing field with fossil energy sources. President Obama recently pledged to place clean energy at the top of his agenda for his second term in office.

“It’s difficult to get funding today,” said Jeff Metts, president of Astraeus Wind Energy, which makes turbine components. “We need some stability in this market.”

Based on the input from business leaders and empirical research, the report recommends that the United States establishes a clean energy standard to guide deployment and investment for the long term, significantly increases investment in energy research and development, enacts a multiyear but time-limited extension of tax credits for clean energy sources, and levels the playing field across the energy sector by evaluating barriers to competition.

In addition, it suggests renewing incentives for domestic clean energy manufacturing and the creation of a strategy to expand markets for clean energy goods and services abroad.