U.S. Northwest Groups Want Global Leadership in Renewables

The U.S. pacific northwest has the opportunity to be “a global leader” in the renewable energy industry, according to a regional study.

OLYMPIA, Washington, US, 2002-01-08 [SolarAccess.com] The environmental group Climate Solutions says the region’s leadership in the clean energy technology industry will grow twice as fast as passenger and cargo aircraft manufacturing over the next 20 years. “We’re on the threshold of an energy efficiency revolution,” says Washington governor Gary Locke. “If we‘re smart, as we‘ve already proved in our high-tech industry, we’ll stay a step ahead of the market and provide the clean-energy decade with the tools it needs.” Washington state has already taken significant steps to promote clean energy companies, he adds. Legislation requires utilities to provide green power by the end of this year to any consumer who requests, and the state has expanded sales tax exemptions for homeowners and businesses that purchase wind, solar or fuel cell facilities. The study, ‘Poised For Profit: How Clean Energy Can Power The Next High Tech Job Surge In The Northwest,’ was commissioned by a prominent group of utilities and economic development agencies in the region. It provides an in-depth market analysis and policy recommendations for the clean energy industry in the pacific northwest. Specific evaluations of potential are provided for wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, solar, fuel cells, power system technologies and energy efficiency. Worldwide, the analysis concludes that the market over the next 20 years for seven clean energy technologies is expected to be US$180 billion a year, twice the size of the passenger and cargo aircraft industries. This global market would be much larger if nations adopt new policies to clean air, expand grid access for the purchase of renewables, and combat global warming. Additionally, concerns about the vulnerability of large central power stations to terrorist attack could convince countries to shift some of their energy sector investment toward less vulnerable clean energy systems. The Pacific Northwest is already a world leader in fuel cells, notes the report, and has the ability to develop global leadership in power systems and solar photovoltaics. Wind, energy efficiency and biomass energy sources offer very substantial economic development potential in the region. In Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, clean energy is a $1.4 billion a year industry. Even if government does nothing further to support these new businesses, this sector is expected to grow to a total of $4 billion a year over the next 20 years and add 12,000 new jobs in the region. As with other high technology ventures, technology-based clean energy businesses need access to high-quality research facilities, as well as skilled workers and scientists. Businesses with a new technology must find ways to commercialize the new technology in a marketable way, and state or local governments could sponsor a business roundtable or help to create an association to network, seek venture funds and lobby. The report warns that success in the marketplace for clean energy often depends on the ability of businesses to work with utilities to gain access to power markets.
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