I would like to thank Secretary of State Davey and the United Kingdom for hosting the third Clean Energy Ministerial, and thank everyone here for traveling to join us and for participating in this important forum.
Today, we have an extraordinary responsibility and opportunity: a responsibility to confront our shared energy and climate challenges, and an opportunity to do this by advancing clean energy technologies that can save consumers money, promote economic growth, strengthen energy security, and expand access to energy.
Useful and important work on energy is taking place across the globe. But we started the Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010 because we saw a need and an opportunity to bring governments together in a high-level forum to focus exclusively on making progress in clean energy.
Since the beginning, this unique forum has been about more than talk -- it's been about action. We have launched 11 initiatives to make concrete progress on everything from energy efficiency to renewable energy to energy access.
Many governments have stepped up to the plate, participating in the initiatives where they are most interested and most capable. This distributed leadership model allows us to be flexible and creative, and most importantly, to move more quickly.
The private sector is an indispensible partner in this effort -- and has been playing a growing role.
Today, based on the strong desire of our UK hosts to expand our private sector engagement, the agenda includes eight public-private roundtable discussions organized with the help of the World Economic Forum.
Now in our third year, the Clean Energy Ministerial is well-established, and our initiatives are gaining steam.
One of our most promising efforts is the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliances Deployment initiative to help governments adopt cost-effective appliance efficiency programs.
Appliance efficiency makes sense for a simple, but powerful, reason: saving energy saves money.
In my own academic research -- which is my version of relaxing during whatever spare moments I might have on weekends or long airline flights --, my collaborators and I found that improving the efficiency of common household appliances has historically cut the overall cost of operating the product without increasing the upfront purchase prices.
All countries can benefit from implementing their own appliance efficiency standards. In developing countries, standards can help make access to energy less expensive by blocking imports of sub-standard, low-efficiency devices that consume lots of power. Keeping sub-standard devices off the market also strengthens the ability of U.S. and other manufacturers to compete. Higher efficiency devices can also help defer expensive investments in new power plants and higher capacity grids.
Globally, we are capturing only a fraction of the energy and economic savings potential from appliance efficiency. That is why our collaboration is so important. Putting together appliance efficiency programs takes time, deep technical expertise, and government funds. Working together through SEAD, we can help make it easier, quicker, and less costly for governments to implement effective programs.
This initiative is not about creating a single efficiency program for all countries, but rather exchanging technical knowledge and best practices to help interested governments effectively develop and strengthen their own programs.
For example, this initiative provided technical support to India as it developed its LED performance standards.
Since the launch of this initiative in 2010, participating governments have implemented, issued, or begun developing more than 60 appliance efficiency standards, which could reduce electricity demand by about 600 terawatt hours --equivalent to the output of roughly 200 mid-size power plants.
The good news doesn't end there. Through the Solar and LED Energy Access Initiative, we're helping to raise standards of living. This initiative has augmented the Lighting Africa program, which has helped deliver 500,000 affordable, quality, off-grid lighting systems to Africa.
The online Clean Energy Solutions Center we launched last year continues to grow. More than 10,000 users from over 150 countries have visited this website. With a library of more than 1,300 clean energy best practice policy resources, it's an effective first-stop clearinghouse to support the development of clean energy policies. And now, countries can tap into the expertise of a team of policy specialists at no cost through the Solutions Center.
The Clean Energy Ministerial has also kept up the drumbeat on closing the gender gap in energy. For example, South Africa held a workshop to support businesswomen interested in the clean energy sector. In the U.S., we're launching a "Clean Energy Ambassadors" program to help mentor promising young women in the field of clean energy.
These are just a few of many examples of our progress. We're also moving forward on initiatives ranging from electric vehicles to smart grids to renewable energy. During the next two days, we'll hear more about the steps we've taken and the steps we still need to take.
We'll also hear about the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. We are pleased its leaders will be a part of today's discussion. This is a good opportunity to focus our efforts more effectively and to advance shared goals.
While this process is gaining momentum each year, our work is far from over. The global financial situation has made it challenging for both governments and the private sector to drive progress as fast as we would like.
That is all the more reason for us to work together, to learn from each other, and to leverage our respective strengths and resources.
Let's make the most of this opportunity and lay the groundwork for more progress, at a faster pace. This path will lead us to Delhi and CEM4 next year, and to Seoul and CEM5 the year after.
Thank you again for participating. Together, we can seize this moment and achieve meaningful change for our citizens and for the world.