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Renewable Resources Are Rising Stars

Mar 07, 2008 - State Department Release/ContentWorks

At the three-day Washington International Conference on Renewable Energy (WIREC), participants from public, corporate and private sectors repeatedly stressed the importance of quickly harnessing the earth's sustainable natural resources for energy.

Global warming is an increasing threat and its effects will worsen if damaging greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed. And, with oil hovering around $100 a barrel, there is even greater impetus for oil-dependent nations such as the United States to go green.

When President Bush addressed delegates of more than 100 nations on March 4, he picked up the theme, saying developing clean technologies was vital for security and environmental reasons.

"The United States is committed, and we're firm in our commitments, to deal with energy problem and to deal with global climate change," he said, after enumerating renewable technologies being funded by the U.S. government and businesses.

Besides federal funding, "There's a lot of smart money heading into the private sector to help develop these new technologies," Bush said.

The president said he aims "to reduce our dependence on oil by investing in technologies that will produce abundant supplies of clean and renewable energy and at the same time show the world we are good stewards of the environment."

First on his list were automobiles. He cited the mandatory reductions in passenger vehicle emissions of 20 percent over 10 years, a reduction mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. He said he sees biodiesel made from oil crops and recycled waste as "the most promising" of clean fuels.

Production of corn ethanol has risen markedly, which is good for corn growers, but has a downside: rising prices of foods that depend on corn. It also cuts into profit margins of livestock ranchers and manufacturers of corn-based products. Acknowledging the problem, Bush said, "The best thing to do is not to retreat from our commitment to alternative fuels but to spend research and development money on alternatives to ethanol made from other materials."

Cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass and woodchips was an example he gave, adding that the U.S. Department of Energy is investing nearly $1 billion in this research. Other technologies receiving Bush administration support are hybrid vehicles, both electric plug-in and hydrogen fuel cell-powered varieties.

Although Bush said his administration continues to back nuclear energy as an electrical power source, he also said that wind power is gaining traction in America. "This is a new industry for us, and it's beginning to grow." The solar energy industry also is growing fast.


"The United States is serious about confronting climate change," he said, adding renewable energy technologies "are an integral part of dealing with climate change." He urged the major economies to set clear goals and develop strategies to meet the goals.

"It'll be different from country to country. We've got a different energy mix than a lot of nations do," he said.

One aim is to use clean-energy technology to help developing countries improve their quality of life and economies. Bush proposed an international clean-technology fund that would provide money "from the wealthy nations to help poorer nations clean up their environments."

The U.S. government is hosting WIREC 2008 to bring together the many entities in the field of renewable energy to evolve concrete strategies and make pledges to implement practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop sustainable energy sources in the short term. More than 100 nations are represented at the conference.

A large trade show, co-located with the conference in the Washington Convention Center, showcases technologies now on the market, from photovoltaic film and solar reflectors, to wind turbines, to a joint Volvo-Mack truck diesel-electric hybrid that is currently on the road and in use by the U.S. Air Force.

The conference runs from March 4-6. For more details see the WIREC home page at

Additional information on the Bush administration's energy initiatives is available in a White House fact sheet on investment in renewable and alternative-energy technologies.


Updated: 2003/07/28