White House Sets Renewables Agenda

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In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama re-affirmed his new Administration's commitment to address climate change through additional development of renewable energy. A key passage of the speech reads: 'We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.'

Giving a clear signal that both climate change and security of energy supply were key issues for the new government, Obama said: 'Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.'

In another phrase likely to be interpreted positively by the renewables sector, Obama also said the nation would strengthen the electricity transmission network, see Last Word on page 115.

Widely anticipated legislative agenda items include a long extension to the Production Tax Credit (PTC), the introduction of a national Renewable Portfolio Standard scheme, and a carbon cap-and-trade programme.

Obama and Vice President Biden have already developed a plan to invest in alternative and renewable energy, reduce demand for foreign oil, address climate change and create millions of new jobs. The Obama-Biden 'New Energy for America plan' aims to help create five million new jobs by strategically investing US $150 billion over the next decade, ensure 10% of US electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25% by 2025 and implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Other aspects of the programme include putting 1 million Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) on the road by 2015, eliminating current imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years and make the US a global leader on climate change issues.

In naming members of the cabinet Dr Steven Chu, currently the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) and a physics Nobel Prize winner, is Obama's choice for Secretary of Energy.

Making the nomination Obama said: 'To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of

Obama has reaffirmed his climate commitment energy and new ways of using it. This is not a challenge for government alone - it is a challenge for all of us.' President Obama added Chu would 'make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission.'

Other key Administration figures in the environment and energy field include Lisa Jackson, who was chosen as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. Meanwhile, Nancy Sutley will become the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and Carol Browner is the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

In addition, the US House Ways and Means Committee has already approved $20 billion in energy tax credits and related financial incentives as part of the Administration's economic recovery plan. The tax breaks benefit the wind and solar energy industries to the end of 2012, while other renewable resources would benefit until 2013. The bill also includes a long-term extension to the renewable PTC, which would cost the government $13.1 billion over 10 years.

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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