As renewable energy and green technologies clearly become a more important part of our future, questions of how best to fire the industries which produce them are growing into serious issues of industrial policy. This is doubly so as the US starts to fall farther behind our European and Asian competitors.
Industry leaders here, though, have some big ideas. As Mike noted Sunday, Tim Leuliette, CEO of Metaldyne, a $2B automotive components supplier stood up earlier this month and called for a national effort to achieve a hydrogen economy. You can read the text here (it's a PDF), and if you care at all about these issues, it's an inspiring read, and a needed reminder that we have allies everywhere:
"The auto industry is the countrys largest employer. The OEMs employ around five hundred thousand people. Suppliers add another three million to that number, with workers spread out in practically every state in the union. Another twenty million people earn their living from us...by selling us furniture...cleaning our clothes and building us houses. This voice needs to be harnessed and focused once again. Management and organized labor need to make politicians earn our vote. We need to collectively demand that our voice, our needs, and our priorities be addressed. The conversion of this society to a hydrogen based energy infrastructure is in the best interest of the auto industry and the nation, but it is going to be up to us to be the catalyst for this change.
"Yes, there will be many tough decisions. Just as there was to unite this country with a transcontinental railroad, to dig a canal through the jungle in a foreign land, to harness the atom for a weapon to end a war, and put a man on the moon for the first time.
Meanwhile, ally Joel Makower discusses the emerging roadmap for the US Solar Industry:
"Final figures aren't in, but worldwide solar shipments are expected to reach nearly 1,000 MW last year -- a healthy jump over 2003's 685 MW -- which itself was a 35% increase over 2002. Over the past two decades, the PV industry has seen a compound annual growth rate of an astounding 38%, according to Clean Edge research.
"But not in the U.S., where the market for solar remains -- well, cloudy. Actual installations of grid-connected solar are still measured in the dozens of megawatts a year -- less than 90 MW last year -- a fraction of the power produced by a single midsized coal or natural gas power plant. And many of those cells were imported from Japan and Europe.
"SEIAs new roadmap hopes to change that. It calls for a variety of measures to be enacted at the national level, including tax credits, uniform net metering, boosts in federal procurement, and support for state programs. Plus, massive infusions of R&D for solar panels and system components."