In his State of the Union Address to the 112th congress, President Obama covered a range of topics. When he spoke on clean energy and climate change and big plans for a greener America, calling for Americans to seize the “Sputnik moment”, it can be easy to feel recurring cynicism on how politicians can promise of a better future without a clear strategy.
The plans are big too: more than one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, and 80 percent of the nation’s energy provided by clean energy by 2035.
A day after what could be said were big promises and small details, the president’s actions seemed to back up his words. President Obama took to the road to visit some of the up-and-coming clean tech industry leaders, highlighting the role they will play in a cleaner future and to encourage investments in clean energy projects. These companies included renewable companies such as solar and lighting company Orion Energy Systems (http://www.oriones.com/), wind turbine manufacturer Tower Tech Systems (http://www.towertechsystems.com/).
Continuing his unofficial tour to promote improved energy efficiency, the president visited Penn State University to unveil the ‘Better Building Initiative’. Outlining his five point plan, the president announced that municipal and commercial buildings such as post offices, stores, and universities will have incentives to retrofit their buildings with the goal of reducing company’s energy bills by $40 billion a year. The plan would provide government financing, added tax incentives, smoother processes for state and municipal buildings and other yet to be named incentives for companies willing to make the leap to more efficient buildings.
There’s a huge amount of barriers to get clean technology to drive the economy – the market, financing with steady funding, geographical competition, the political landscape.
But it may be achievable. As John Cheney, chief executive of solar project developer Silverado Power stated: “”It’s a lofty goal, but it’s like the race to the moon in that it’s generally achievable. The issue is whether we have the political will and ability to pull together and actually do it.” Time will tell.