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How can energy power U.S. manufacturing competitiveness?

By Posted on April 29, 2013
Blog

I recently traveled to Washington DC to participate in the inaugural dialogue of the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership (AEMC), a three year effort of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Council on Competitiveness. The objective of the Partnership is to boost U.S. competitiveness by focusing on energy.

So what does energy have to do with manufacturing competitiveness? Plenty. In fact, every product that gets made and moved uses energy. Therefore anything that reduces energy intensity and improves energy productivity is going to improve competitiveness. In recent years, both industry and government have begun to recognize that achieving global competitiveness essentially comes down to just three things: labor productivity, capital productivity and natural resource productivity.

The AEMC Partnership, with its objective of improving manufacturing energy efficiency, is all about boosting natural resource productivity. It may also end up influencing capital productivity as well by ensuring that appropriate levels of capital flow to deliver positive ROI to energy efficiency projects.

A second link between energy and manufacturing competitiveness has to do with the market for clean energy products—which is already at least a $270 billion global market, forecasted to grow to well over a trillion dollars in the next few years. The U.S. is recognized as the seat of innovation, as we are not too shabby when it comes to making things. The U.S. can earn our fair share of this growing clean energy market by ensuring that the  we aer competitive in the production of clean energy products. Although the U.S. is poised as a global manufacturing leader, there is potential to fall behind as other regions of the world pull ahead. Whether it’s Asia, with its favorable demographics and increasing per capita purchasing power, or Europe, with its aggressive policies favoring clean energy investments, we must remain vigilant to stay ahead.

I am hopeful that the AEMC Partnership, by bringing together leaders from industry, academia, labor, national laboratories, government and the non-profit community,  will play a key role in ensuring U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in global markets.

Jean Redfield
President & CEO
NextEnergy
jredfield@nextenergy.org

NextEnergy was invited to participate in this dialogue because of our leadership position as a convener and catalyst for energy technology development and commercialization. We are a unique public private partnership well positioned to connect industry with each other, and with upstream research development and demonstration capabilities. The Council on Competitiveness profiled NextEnergy, as well as a number of other relevant public private partnerships, in their recent report, “The Power of Partnerships”. Click here to learn more.

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