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Obama's Re-election: A Mandate for Clean Energy?

Obama_victoryWith President Obama’s victory tonight, the renewable energy industry keeps an important ally in the White House. The win comes at a time when energy is rising in national importance. Given the extent to which the opposition made renewable energy an issue, I think the President’s win gives him a mandate to make clean energy a key part of the agenda for his second term. Now is the time to rally industry around a comprehensive plan to make our nation’s energy supply more secure, clean and affordable.

Over the last four years, our nation’s energy situation has changed for the better in two important ways:

  1. Wind and solar have proven they can play a significant role in mainstream energy markets as an affordable source of clean electricity.  That’s thanks in part to President Obama’s leadership on the ARRA stimulus programs that bridged the industry through the global financial crisis.
  2. The boom in U.S. shale gas production has fundamentally altered our domestic energy options, edging out coal as the fossil fuel of choice.

These developments open new doors in terms of how we think about our energy future. With abundant and cheap solar, wind, and natural gas we can effectively have it all—a secure and stable mix of domestically-sourced clean energy at no additional cost over the status quo.

But there are pitfalls in our new found abundance as well. If we’re not careful we could end up overly dependent on gas, leaving us exposed to future price shocks. Leadership is required to define our national energy goals and keep the country on the right path.

The attacks during the campaign on solar and renewables–and climate change for that matter–were as fierce and they were well-funded. Despite those attacks, public opinion about renewables proved to be resilient. Solar and wind remain the top two most positively viewed energy sources with bipartisan favorability ratings in excess of 80%. Americans clearly understand the benefit of renewables and I think the President can rightfully claim a mandate to pursue a clean energy agenda.

The solar industry and SEIA stand ready to do our part. We’re continuing to drive out cost, accelerating solar’s transition to competitive markets and reduced dependency on government incentives. What we need in return is a stable policy environment that enables our industry to plan with confidence and ensures the flow of capital to good projects and companies.

Congratulations President Obama on your win today. Here’s to four more years of making renewable energy part of our broader energy mix!

Arno Harris's picture

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Randy Voges's picture
Randy Voges on Nov 7, 2012 4:33 pm GMT

One small problem with the case for a mandate: the Democrats did not take back the House.

Edward Kerr's picture
Edward Kerr on Nov 8, 2012 2:06 pm GMT

Your absolutely right Aggie. So it's time for people to start writing/calling their representatives, regardless of party affiliation, to let them know that "we the people " now DEMAND that they support the sea change in energy product that is, from a survival standpoint, MANDATORY and not optional. It's our cookies at stake here and the issue outweighs all other's by a long shot.


Ski Milburn's picture
Ski Milburn on Nov 8, 2012 11:43 pm GMT

Given the lukewarm support by the administration for renewables over the last few years, and the memes and themes of the campaign, I'm having a hard time finding a mandate in the manure pile.

But, four years of mildly hostile neglect beats four years of mildly neglectful hostility any day.  We'll take it.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Nov 10, 2012 6:56 am GMT

Kent, as a renewable energy scientist for longer than you, I, like many other Americans, have had enough of this insulting arrogance being expressed.

Submit your patents and please share your insights so we can grow our economies securely, sustainably. But it never, ever gets that far. Always a vague minimal reference to some new wonder technology, expanded into some insulting lecture, concluding in a sales pitch for some political agenda and taxes.

I am aware of Siemens. IIRC they were the only other fiber optic company listed in the business yellow pages; listed under Siecore I believe (long time ago). And I know optics and semiconductors, so I can handle your new idea. This blog site Siemens sponsors would benefit.

As for the election, it seems hungry populous states (some waiting in gas lines without electricity in the cold) in deep financial debt all went for Obama. We all don't aspire to be like California and New York. And we get tired of providing for them while being told how evil we are. My simple solution is they should buy elsewhere, then. Paying them money to buy our labors and then getting insulted isn't going to work anymore. They don't make much stuff we buy anyway. I really don't know what most of those people do anymore except make policies for others.

Solar biofuels and infrared fuel cells is my game. And I won't ask the government to force people to pay for it. Go ahead patent it if you think you know science. Or show some rare courtesy and engage in a productive discussion.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Nov 10, 2012 5:26 pm GMT

Well Kent, maybe I missed it in your duplicated excess below, but I didn't see any description of your new idea to get 45% efficiency from silicon in a durable rooftop structure.

As for the other skimmed blather, 30+ years ago I was doing my Ph.D. research on proton exchange kinetics at pressures over 100,000 psi in a department headed by the inventor of digital electronics. When I combined solid state physics with biochemistry it began serious discussion of water as a semiconductor and nanotechnology. By the time academics figured that stuff out I was pushing the internet using address multiplexing to (bio)mimic neural communications. The academics later joined that, too. Hands on energy related development.

While later dealing with a (West)German and Japanese company on computer automated chemiluminescent immunoassays (during AIDS concerns) I pushed the mass produced "recycled plastic livestock septic tanks", and cellulosic biofuels from hay crops that puts carbon in the soil (1987). Both seem to interest you now. As well, I'm glad you have some general awareness of the infrared fuel cell concept. Perhaps I missed your awareness of storing solar energy in high temperature biomass biofuel processing.

I learned that when government floats $100million subsidies and grants around, it can get very dangerous for people creating new science. So people like you that chat about what other people are doing miss the very real fear factor. I never got anything but friendship and protection from Republicans. And never got even a friendly hello from Democrats. I have no reason to lie about this, I'm trying to save my butt. Keep the free money out of it to protect innovation is the lesson of experience.

So how about you just stick with reporting the RE news from Germany. I'm glad to hear so much progress in directions I've pushed, particularly agriculture where I'm now involved. And please leave your ill-founded opinions of US politics out of it.

Finally, I must say it is satisfying to see the Scandinavians push a wide list of UN climate sustainability goals and the Germans developing a diverse RE technology market. It will be interesting to see Chinese developments. I wish the US was a player, but this administration just won't allow innovation to compete with giving away money.

Alan Hayes's picture
Alan Hayes on Nov 14, 2012 1:01 pm GMT

Its nice to see scientists bickering but I wanted to point out that the results of the elecetion show that those states who receive more than one dollar back from the federal government than they pay in taxes almost all voted republican-so those states that supported Obama are in fact subsising those republican voting states who are so keen on cutting the size of government


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