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White House Climate Plan Seeks to Double Renewable Energy Generation by 2020

June 26, 2013

This week, President Obama released details of a climate action blueprint that incorporates preparation for future natural disasters as a major component of the plan. Most of the domestic aspects of the plan are to be implemented by executive order, avoiding the complications of the legislative process. Though much of the blueprint centers on the strengthening of American infrastructure, the improvement of the electrical grid and ambitious renewable energy standards, the plan also includes a few mentions of increased federal support for technology development and commercialization.

The three pillars of the administration's climate action plan include: cutting carbon pollution in America; preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change; and, leading international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts. With two of the three pillars explicitly targeting preparation for severe weather caused by climate change and post-disaster relief, the plan reflects a shift in focus for the administration from renewable energy development and deployment to infrastructure improvement.

One of the few aspects of the plan targeting new technologies involves non-renewable energy sources. A planned solicitation from the Department of Energy (DOE) will make $8 billion in loan guarantees available for advanced fossil energy projects, particularly those focused on investments in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. DOE will accept comments on the solicitation this summer and issue the final version in the fall.

Several of the action items related to cutting carbon pollution, however, could boost federal support for technology development or increase demand for renewable energy technologies. President Obama sets the goal of doubling renewable energy generation by 2020, building off of the doubling that occurred over the past four years. In order to spur renewable generation, the administration plans to accelerate clean energy permitting on federal lands and permitting for transmission projects that feed into the electric grid. The streamlined permitting and capacity has the potential to boost the domestic demand for new technologies.

Similarly, increased fuel economy standards, efficiency standards and a pledge for the federal government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in seven years are intended to create new demand. The administration also plans to promote energy efficiency through performance contracting, using a standardized contract to finance federal investments in energy efficiency. This contract is intended to increase access to capital markets for energy efficiency. Read the plan...

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white house, energy, strategic plan