Obama on the Record: Earth Day

Energy efficiency, however, can only take us part way. Even as we are conserving energy, we need to change the way we produce energy.

Today, America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources like wind and solar. Meanwhile, Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind. We pioneered solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in generating it.

I don’t accept that this is the way it has to be. When it comes to renewable energy, I don’t think we have to be followers; I think it’s time for us to lead.

We are now poised to do exactly that. According to some estimates, last year, 40 percent of all new generating capacity in our country came from wind. In Iowa, you know what this means. This state is second only to Texas in installed wind capacity, which more than doubled last year alone. The result? Once shuttered factories are whirring back to life here at Trinity; at TPI Composites where more than 300 workers are manufacturing turbine blades; and elsewhere in this state and across America.

In 2000, energy technology represented just one half of one percent of all venture capital investments. Today, it’s more than 10 percent.

The recovery plan seeks to build on this progress, and encourage even faster growth. We are providing incentives to double our nation’s capacity to generate renewable energy over the next few years – extending the production tax credit, providing loan guarantees, and offering grants to spur investment in new sources of renewable fuel and electricity.

My budget also invests $15 billion each year for ten years to develop clean energy including wind power, solar power, geothermal energy, and clean coal technology.

And today I am announcing that my administration is taking another historic step. Through the Department of Interior, we are establishing a program to authorize – for the first time – the leasing of federal waters for projects to generate electricity from wind as well as from ocean currents and other renewable sources.

This will open the door to major investments in offshore clean energy. For example, there is enormous interest in wind projects off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware and today’s announcement will enable these projects to move forward.

It is estimated that if we fully pursue our potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030, creating as many as 250,000 jobs in the process. As with so many clean energy investments, it’s win-win: good for environment and great for our economy.

Yet, even as we pursue renewable energy from the wind and the sun and other sources, we also need a smarter, stronger electricity grid to carry that energy from one end of this country to the other. That’s why we are making an $11 billion investment through the recovery plan to modernize the way we distribute electricity.

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