Ensuring American Leadership in Clean Energy Manufacturing

on December 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM


Manufacturing is the bedrock of the American economy, representing nearly 12 percent of our gross domestic product and providing good, high-paying jobs for middle class families. Yet, as we transition to a clean energy economy, we need to ensure that American workers are manufacturing the renewable energy technologies of tomorrow.

That’s why this past March, the Energy Department launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. Through the initiative, we are working to boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness by focusing on two key areas — increasing the efficiency of the manufacturing sector while also making sure that clean energy technologies continue to be produced here in America. And we’re starting from a good place.

After decades of targeted investments by the Department in American clean energy innovation, a wide array of technologies — from solar power and electric vehicles to energy-efficient LED lighting and wind power — are seeing dramatic reductions in cost and a surge in consumer, industrial and commercial deployment. As these technologies continue to mature — and the markets grow into the trillions of dollars — we’re working to help U.S. manufacturers solidify American competitiveness in clean energy manufacturing.

Through the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative and our technology offices, we have supported a series of strategic investments that will provide long term dividends — improving companies’ bottom lines and advancing U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation. Highlights from this year include:

  • More than 123 companies have signed on to the Better Plants Challenge, saving about $1 billion cumulative energy costs and about 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions at more than 1,750 manufacturing facilities across the U.S.
  • The Department’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Lab continues to be a leading research institution for manufacturers working in the areas of carbon fiber and composites, additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) and lightweight metals processing.
  • Working with the Departments of Commerce and Defense, we’re helping to create institutes in a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). In addition to the first pilot institute that focuses on additive manufacturing, there are active solicitations from multiple government agencies on three new institutes in the NNMI that will focus on wide bandgap semiconductors, lightweight metals and digital manufacturing.
  • To ensure that our clean energy manufacturing supply chains cannot be held hostage by the limited availability of essential elements, we launched the Critical Materials Institute at Ames Laboratory.
  • And today, we announced new investments to advance the nation’s clean energy manufacturing industry through the State Energy Program. Three states — Michigan, North Carolina and Washington — will receive funding to develop strategies for public and private partnerships that foster clean energy manufacturing and services.

Taking the concept of public-private partnerships to a new level, we teamed up with the Council of Competitiveness to create the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness (AEMC) Partnership to bring together national leaders to address our rapidly shifting national and global energy landscape. Through a series of dialogues across the country, we’ve discussed actions that can be taken to enable us to be more globally competitive in clean energy innovation.

As a culmination of these dialogues, we’re hosting our first AEMC Summit in Washington, D.C., on December 12, where we will discuss how to win the future of clean energy manufacturing in the United States. I invite you to watch the summit, streaming live on energy.gov/live.