A Way to Generate Power More Efficiently

We applaud Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and co-sponsors for working to advance renewable power and identifying pathways to help make manufacturers and industry more competitive in the global economy, as proposed in the Clean Energy Standard legislation introduced last week. This bill is a critical step toward a pragmatic policy to enhance our energy independence and security, create jobs, and reduce emissions that pose health and environmental risks.

Investing in and promoting clean energy adoption is also a matter of global competitiveness. Our research shows that where strong domestic standards are implemented, private finance and investment follow. A robust national policy would send a strong, long-term signal to the marketplace that America is serious about renewable technologies and committed to winning the global clean energy race.

As Sen. Bingaman noted in the news release announcing the measure, "This legislation will ... allow every region to deploy clean energy using its own resources. It also will make sure that we do all of this in a way that supports home-grown innovation and manufacturing and keeps us competitive in the global clean energy economy."

Among the many laudable components are provisions promoting technologies that help companies capture waste heat and use it for both electricity generation and heating purposes. Industrial energy efficiency will help American companies reduce waste, save money, and become more competitive in the global marketplace. This is a commonsense way to create jobs, and it deserves broad, bipartisan support.

Manufacturing and power generation create large amounts of heat, which typically escapes through smokestacks into the atmosphere. Hundreds of facilities across the United States are already using technical innovations to capture this energy for other purposes. Altogether, utilizing harnessed heat contributes 85 gigawatts of electricity capacity annually, or almost 9 percent of the nation's output. Greater energy efficiency for the industrial and manufacturing sector will:

  • Create new American jobs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates up to one million highly skilled jobs could be realized.
  • Spur private investment. Up to 200 billion in new private financing in the United States could be attained, according to Oak Ridge.
  • Save money. Help make American companies more efficient and competitive.

In addition, industrial efficiency allows us to continue utilizing natural gas, coal, and other domestic fuel sources -- with lower emissions. Finally, it helps reduce pressure on our commercial electricity grid, making it more reliable. This is an important part of a comprehensive policy and has rightly earned its place among technologies supported in the proposed Clean Energy Standard.

learn more at pewenvironment.org