That's the amount that the global clean energy market is expected to grow in the next decade.
China and Germany, two of the world's largest economies that have best weathered the storms of recession, both see the potential of clean energy. China has created a massive domestic market to drive up demand and spur innovations. It is now poised to sell its clean technologies to the rest of the world. Germany, already world leader in solar power, made domestic clean tech development a key part of its strategy to export its way out of recession.
Beyond recovery from the current economic crisis, the country that first develops and integrates affordable clean energy technologies is likely to dominate the 21st century global economy -- and create the jobs that go along with it.
The United States is a nation of innovators. Our creativity, productivity and entrepreneurial spirit led to our economic dominance throughout the 20th century. This ingenuity can drive our success in the 21st century.
But we need a commitment from the private sector -- coupled with strong support from the government -- to develop, manufacture and use new clean energy technologies.
The innovations we need to dominate this market include major, game-changing breakthroughs, like next-generation nuclear power and long-distance electric cars. But they also include incremental progress -- like expanded battery storage, upgrades to our transmission system and improvements in solar panels.
But large or small, innovations don't just happen. With slower capital returns than usually seen with IT and biotech investments, we need to encourage private sector involvement in clean energy. Lack of demand -- since new energy sources have been more costly than fossil fuels -- can deter development of promising technologies.
But we have succeeded in past when the public sector worked hand-in-hand with business to solve these problems. We can re-ignite this public/private partnership, as Third Way outlines in an innovation report out today, by focusing on four steps:
-STREAMLINE GOVERNMENT: We should integrate all federal energy innovation programs, and strengthen existing collaborative efforts, with the single mission of developing commercial clean energy technologies. This could help businesses cut through the federal government's bureaucratic red tape and ensure that we are capitalizing on good ideas and using taxpayer money wisely.
- STRENGTHEN PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: The public sector can help private innovators by stepping into the "valley of death" -- where too many good ideas sink. This can provide access to capital for companies seeking to move new technologies from lab to market.
-CREATE MARKETS: New technologies need customers, and the government -- particularly the Defense Department -- needs new energy ideas. The Pentagon has large procurement capabilities. Its role as both consumer and user of clean energy can create an initial market for new technologies that meet tactical defense needs and also have potential commercial use.
-ENSURE CLEAN TECH IS MADE IN THE US: The government should offer tax incentives and investments to companies that manufacture clean technologies in this country, and so create well-paying U.S. jobs. We also need to ensure that U.S.-made clean energy technologies have access to overseas markets, by strengthening our export promotion and protection programs.
As we work to cut our deficit and promote fiscal responsibility, investment in research and development still remains a key function of the federal government. When the economy recovers and support for innovation expands, we will be able to build on our initial successes.
But we have to start today to have any hope of catching up to China, Germany and other clean energy powerhouses. Despite Washington's recent political shifts, maintaining our global economic edge should remain a bipartisan priority.
We are already seeing the fruits of this innovation in our states. North Carolina is an energy R&D leader and high-tech center. It has some of the nation's best universities creating a workforce for innovative clean energy companies -- and its Research Triangle is now an advanced innovation hub.
Michigan is the nation's leader in the manufacturing expertise needed to build clean energy technologies. New electric vehicle battery production is already underway. Clean energy innovation is not only bolstering Michigan's manufacturing base, it is making it cleaner and more efficient. Colorado has advanced energy research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a rapidly growing clean energy sector. The state has successfully integrated strengths in its universities, federal labs and small businesses to take a lead in the nation's clean energy effort. In fact, clean energy innovation has created 20,000 new jobs in Colorado in the past six years.
The message is clear. We need to mobilize our manufacturing base and jumpstart American innovation to seize this opportunity. It cannot wait. Our performance in the clean energy race will likely determine U.S. standing in the 21st Century global economy.
Energy innovation is not a partisan issue -- it's an American imperative. The choice is clear: We will either be stamping "Made in the USA" on wind turbines, solar panels, advanced batteries and nuclear components. Or unloading them from foreign container ships.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is the chairwoman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Committee of Energy and National Resources.