By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor Power Engineering
In his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reinstated his commitment to renewable energy. Despite the demise of solar manufacturer Solyndra looming over the past year of his term, Obama said that he “will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.”
Obama called for a commitment by the Defense Department to purchase 1,000 MW of renewable energy. He also referenced the long-standing Interior Department commitment to permit 10,000 MW of renewable energy projects on public land this year.
The President called again on Congress to pass a “clean energy standard” that would require electric utilities to glean 80 percent of their power from natural gas, nuclear and renewable sources by 2035, and a permanent extension of a federal production tax credit for wind power.
With uncertainty over the future of the PTC, which is set to expire at the end of this year, layoffs have already begun in the wind industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Bryan Ritterby of Holland, Mich.-based wind turbine manufacturer Energetx Composites was First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest and also mentioned by Obama during the speech. This was the fifth time wind power has been mentioned in the SOTU in the last decade, by President George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007 and previously by President Obama in 2009 and 2011.
The speech also reflected a commitment to the solar industry, which has been experiencing challenges due to photovoltaic debates brewing between China and the U.S. over illegal dumping.
“I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here."
Obama said that despite challenges encountered in the renewable energy industry, solar, wind and hydro deserve the same federal subsidies that oil and gas companies have received for decades.
“It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs.”
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