Tuesday, December 16, 2008

U.S. Needs $500 Billion Clean Tech Investment, 5 Million Green Jobs: Report

By GreenBiz Staff
Published December 9, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- A new plan for reviving and strengthening the U.S. economy calls for an investment of $500 billion over 10 years on a range of energy, education, construction, building and manufacturing programs that would create 5 million jobs.

The New Apollo Program is the creation of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders promoting clean energy, energy efficiency and green jobs.

The five sections of the program include numerous recommendations, ranging from expanding and continuing existing programs to developing new funds and systems for cutting carbon. An underlying theme throughout the plan is improving conditions in the U.S. though better infrastructure, education and good jobs.

Rebuild America Clean and Green

The Alliance calls for a national commitment to reduce energy use in new and existing buildings by at least 30 percent by 2025. A proposed Energy Smart Fund would funnel grants to state and local entities to provide energy services and financing.

The plan also includes producing 25 percent of the country's power from renewable and recycled energy sources by 2025, and improving the energy efficiency of existing power plants and industries by 20 percent - primarily through combined heat and power systems - by that same year.

Additional measures include connecting neighborhoods and cities with improved transit systems, enhancing transportation infrastructure by first fixing it instead of expanding it, using smart grid technology to manage power better, extending tax credits related to renewable energy and investing in carbon capture and storage.

Make It in America

As the market for renewable power and alternative vehicles increases, more jobs will be needed to build and maintain new energy systems. Manufacturing in the U.S. will create jobs and increase our energy security, the Alliance argues.

To do that, the federal government needs to provide funding for the auto industry to retool manufacturing plants and create highly-efficient vehicles, The New Apollo Program says. It also calls for consumer rebates and incentives to help people purchase efficient vehicles and tax credits for fueling stations to expand the availability of cellulosic ethanol, sustainably-produced biodiesel and other low-carbon fuels.

Restore America's Technological Leadership

In 1979, public investment in energy-related research and development was at $7.8 billion in today's dollars. Now it's at $4 billion.

The New Apollo Program recommends doubling the national investment in clean tech R&D, with a focus on advanced energy storage systems for improved grid management, smart grid technologies to reduce peak energy demand, nanotechnology and advanced materials science for new solar cells and ultra-light wind-turbines, the widespread introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and advanced cellulosic ethanol and sustainable biodiesel production.

A National Energy Innovation Fund would invest in the most promising technologies coming out of the U.S.

Tap the Productivity of the American People

To achieve all of the above, the U.S. is going to need people making solar panels, installing wind turbines, monitoring the grid, maintaining electric cars and researching new fuels.

To achieve that, the Alliance says the U.S. should expand the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce Training Program created in last year's energy bill, provide funding specifically for providing green career training for people living in poverty, double federal support for national service programs and award 100,000 Clean Energy Tomorrow scholarships each year to students pursuing undergraduate degrees in science, math or engineering.

Reinvest in America

Lastly, to help fund many of the new efforts, the program includes a federal "cap and invest" system that would create a cap on carbon emissions, allow allowances to be traded and invest proceeds back into energy efficiency, renewables, transit, transportation and green jobs programs

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