Report Assesses Nation’s Clean Energy Potential


In a presentation before national policy-makers and analysts, clean energy CEOs, venture capitalists and academics unveiled the Gigaton Throwdown, an assessment of the nation's clean energy potential that identifies seven industries capable of creating five million clean energy jobs and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 5 gigatons to 7 gigatons by 2020.

The report, a collaborative effort between researchers at UC Berkeley, MIT, University of Michigan, Stanford and Drexel University, and clean tech leaders, challenges Washington policy-makers to remove obstacles that keep billions of capital investment dollars sitting on the sidelines.

‘By passing strong legislation, we can grow our economy and end our dependence on foreign oil,’ says Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. ‘We can ensure that the United States takes back the lead in creating the clean energy technologies of the future – wind turbines, solar panels and energy efficiency products – and that American companies benefit.’

The report identified seven existing industries – biofuel, nuclear, solar, geothermal, wind, building efficiency and construction materials – that could reach gigaton scale over the next 10 years with new infusions of private capital. To attain gigaton scale, a single technology must reduce worldwide CO2 and equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by at least 1 billion tons – a gigaton – per year by 2020.

Currently, more than $13 trillion in private capital is prepared to invest in the traditional base of energy technologies over the next decade. Redirecting that capital to clean energy is an $8 trillion opportunity that will depend in large part on U.S. energy and climate policy.

The report also identified several key policy barriers preventing that private capital from immediate investment and recommended several changes the U.S. should undertake to spur investment. These changes include the following:

– Establishing a price on carbon that will level the playing field and stand above political influence or pressure;

– Setting more stringent renewable energy, efficiency, and fuel standards;

– Enhancing the electrical gird to better utilize the new power generated by renewables; and

– Fixing the market for efficiency upgrades by reforming utility and building regulation.

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SOURCE: The Gigaton Throwdown

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