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New Frontiers in Energy Summit

March 28, 2008 - 11:49am

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Remarks by Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Sen. Salazar.

I appreciate your strong commitment to helping this state - and our nation - address our energy challenges in a way that is comprehensive and sustainable for the long-term.  In particular, you've been a real leader on renewable energy - through your work on the Senate Energy Committee - and I look forward to continuing to work with you back in Washington.

It is indeed a pleasure to be in the great state of Colorado.  This state is blessed with tremendous natural beauty - and vast natural resources -- resources which make Colorado a treasured haven for outdoor enthusiasts and which make the people who live here so strongly committed to protecting and improving our earth's environment.

The people of this state want Colorado to be a leader in advanced, clean energy because you know that your future - and America's future - depends on it.  And all of you - individuals and families, elected officials, utilities, universities and the business community - are making it happen.

I'm proud that the Department of Energy and our National Renewable Energy Laboratory are also part of your effort.

Dan Arvizu, the Director of NREL, is here today as well.   NREL is not only our nation's premier renewable energy research laboratory it is also a leader in using clean energy to power its facilities.  In fact, last October, when I was out here in Colorado, Dan and I announced two new renewable energy projects for NREL; a renewable fuels heating plant and a 750 kW solar array.  Thank you for being here, Dan.

And I also want to recognize another member of our Department's senior leadership team - Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner - who is here today.

Andy and his team are leading our efforts to develop, deploy, and integrate renewable and environmentally sound energy technologies into our economy - and our lives.  Thank you, Andy, for your terrific work.

The way I see it, this conference could not come at a better time and, quite frankly, should be emulated across the country.  Because, the truth is, improving our energy security and addressing global climate change are among the most pressing challenges we face.

As you well know, we are confronting rapidly growing energy demand and rising prices.  And these demand pressures will only increase with time.  The International Energy Agency estimates that the world's primary energy needs will grow by over 50% by 2030.

Meeting this demand will require the investment of billions of dollars annually for decades - around the world and at all stages of the energy cycle.

At the same time, we must develop and commercialize cleaner sources of energy to power our vehicles, homes and workplaces more efficiently and in an environmentally responsible way.

Throughout this nation, there is an appropriately high level of attention on the impact of energy prices on our economy.

And, for those families and small business struggling with record-high prices, the situation seems daunting.  Believe me, I share their concern, and I know that Senator Salazar does as well.

But I'm confident that, working together, we will meet our nation's energy challenges as America has always risen to meet her greatest challenges.

Even more than that, I'm optimistic that they represent a major opportunity for our nation - and our world and, as you all clearly demonstrate, for those states, municipalities and businesses who act aggressively to embrace them.

But the success of our collective effort will depend on two key factors.

First, any strategy to truly improve our energy security must recognize that there's no one silver bullet here.

We must pursue a range of tactics to achieve more diverse, sustainable, clean, affordable and secure energy supplies.

Secondly, the federal government must encourage - in fact, we absolutely require - intense, strategic collaboration with academia, with the private sector and with states and local governments.

The situation we face is too complex, too urgent, and too important to be solved by any one organization or any one sector.

So our national strategy is focused around these two ideas: diversity of supply and comprehensive, strategic collaboration.

Let me provide a few examples of what we're doing at the federal level to carry it out.

Under President Bush's leadership, we have put in place a series of federal policies to increase our national investment in the R&D to break our dependence on fossil fuels, increase our energy efficiency, and harness the tremendous power of renewable energy.

Through the President's Advanced Energy Initiative, we've identified the technologies that are having the greatest impact - today and over the course of the next decade.  And we are going after them with increased resources, measurable metrics and milestones, and national plans that include aggressive timelines.

For example, over the past year alone, the Energy Department has announced over $1 billion of investments to spur the growth of a robust, sustainable biofuels industry, and in particular to tap the great potential of cellulosic biofuels derived from waste streams rather than edible fuel sources.

As part of that effort, our Office of Science is investing over $400 million (over five years) in three cutting-edge Bioenergy Research Centers that are attracting world-class scientists and engineers from academia, industry and our National Laboratories to work to apply the great strides we've made in human genomics to our energy challenges.

I should mention that NREL is partnered with Oak Ridge National Lab on one of these three Centers.  And after six months of work we're already starting to see some very promising scientific results coming out of this investment.

With the technical leadership of DOE's applied science program, we've announced the selection of six large-scale biorefinery projects.  One of these was awarded to Range Fuels, which is of course based here in Colorado (Broomfield), although the actual facility will be Georgia.

These six projects - Range Fuels and the other five - together will receive up to $385 million - and a total of more than $1.2 billion to be cost-shared through public-private partnerships - over the next four years.

This is the precisely the type of strategic collaboration we need.

When fully operational, they are expected to produce more than 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.  Many of these projects - including Range Fuels' - are already underway.

Through these and other investments we're advancing our national goal of making cellulosic biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012, and reducing America's gasoline consumption by 20% within a decade.

This has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions at the tailpipe by up to 85%, and thereby significantly reduce carbon emissions from our transportation sector.

Our goals are similar with regard to other renewable energy sources.

Through our Wind Energy program, R&D projects are addressing the barriers to operability, reliability and storage that will bring costs down and enable even greater industry growth.  And we're already seeing results.

Thanks largely to wind energy's contribution, renewable energy sources accounted for 30% of all new nameplate electricity capacity additions in the U.S. in 2007 - up from just 2% in 2004.

And we envision a future where wind supplies 20% or more of our total national generating capacity.  This state has been a real leader in wind energy.  I know that Xcel - one of the nation's top wind-power generating utilities - is collaborating with NREL on numerous projects, including cutting-edge wind-to-hydrogen research.

Likewise, through the Solar America Initiative, we're working to make solar photovoltaic-based electricity cost-competitive nationwide by 2015 and we believe it will be cost-competitive before then in some states.

One key effort that is enabling us to reach this goal is the Solar America Cities program - a series of high-level partnerships with city governments that have demonstrated their commitment to a comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies.

These diverse partnerships galvanize the efforts of a broad range of local partners, including utilities, universities, solar companies, and non-profit organizations.

Last June, I announced the selection of the inaugural 13 Solar America Cities.  These initial partnerships are well underway and have made considerable progress in a short amount of time.

Today I'm pleased to announce the City of Denver as one of our twelve 2008 Solar America Cities.

The City of Denver has assembled an impressive partnership team led by Greenprint Denver and including the Cities of Aurora and Boulder, the Counties of Denver and Boulder, as well as Xcel Energy, Environment Colorado, and many others.

Through this award, the Denver Solar Cities Partnership will receive financial and technical assistance from the Department of Energy to help establish solar as a mainstream energy resource option.  And it receives this really cool sign, which I am happy to present to Sen. Salazar on behalf of the Energy Department.

I understand that the City of Denver has plans to complete four major solar installations this year, including a 2 MW PV system at the airport, and also plans to demonstrate the applicability of solar technologies to affordable housing projects.

Denver also plans to explore innovative strategies to overcome residential and commercial barriers to solar adoption, such as upfront capital cost and the lack of public awareness of solar benefits.

I expect that the Solar America Cities partnership will contribute to the success of these and other efforts.  And the future energy savings - and reduction of carbon emissions - generated through Denver's increased reliance on solar technologies will be considerable.

The Solar America Cities program is focused on market transformation.  The Energy Department has extensive solar R&D programs - many based at NREL and many conducted in partnership with the private sector.

Our goal is to make advanced solar technologies cost-competitive and ready for the marketplace everywhere in the U.S.  But there is another important component of our strategy as well.

Whereas R&D provides the technology "push," if you will, we also must address the market "pull" and focus on ways to integrate these new technologies into the marketplace - and into the grid - efficiently and quickly.

This partnership program is designed to help communities do just that by working with them to eliminate integration barriers and develop opportunities for large solar-based projects.

The cities will gain access to experts at our National Labs (NREL and others), at DOE headquarters and to technical experts and consultants in the private sector.

The cities will explore city-wide planning, targeted tax incentives, changes to municipal regulations, public-private partnerships, codes and standards work, and education and training.  And these cities will also work together to share best practices and serve as models for municipalities across the nation.

The Solar America Cities recognize that they have a key role to play in making solar a reality - locally and across the nation.

Their collective buying power and ability to streamline solar for their residents and businesses will have a direct, near-term impact on growing the domestic solar industry.

These 25 cities (13 in 2007; 12 this year) are spread across 16 different states and include 6 of the country's 10 largest metropolitan areas (by population).  Clearly, America is ready for solar.

Through our Solar America Initiative and many others, we are quite rightly placing a great deal of emphasis on renewables and alternative fuels.

But our national strategy also must recognize that our economy is - and will remain - heavily dependent on fossil energy.

And so, we must work to diversify the available supply of conventional fuels and expand production here and around the world.  And we must do so in ways that are cleaner and more efficient.

This includes not only oil and gas, but also maintaining an adequate liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, and accelerating the development of nontraditional fossil fuels - like oil shale and oil sands.

And perhaps the most promising, in my view, is expanding the availability of clean-coal technologies.  After all, this nation is blessed with an abundant coal supply.

The challenge is: we must find ways to reduce - or perhaps eliminate - its environmental impacts.

One way to do this is through the development of carbon sequestration capacity.

Last year the Department announced that we have awarded funds for the first three large-scale carbon sequestration projects in the United States, which will conduct large volume tests for the storage of one million or more tons of carbon dioxide in deep saline reservoirs.

And one of these projects - the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration - includes the state of Colorado.  Collectively, these formations have the potential to store more than one hundred years of CO2 emissions from all major sources of pollution in North America.

At the same time, we also must expand access to safe and emissions-free nuclear power in this country.

Because - and this is a critical point: at present, nuclear power is the only mature technology that can supply large amounts of emissions-free base load power to help us meet the expected growth in demand.

We must expand nuclear power in a way that dramatically reduces proliferation risks and responsibly manages waste, and this includes moving the Yucca Mountain repository to completion in a timely manner and providing regular, reasonable funding for it.

Whether we are talking about nuclear or clean-coal or other large-scale facilities, we recognize that building and operating them is the purview of the private sector.

However, the federal government certainly has a role - and we have a strong national interest - in removing some of the roadblocks associated with getting some of these massive projects off the ground.

To that end, the Department of Energy is arranging more than $38 billion in loan guarantees over the next three years to commercialize any technology that avoids, sequesters or reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal here is to support early commercial use of advanced energy technologies by helping projects realize lifecycle profitability.

So let me return to where I started.  In my view, our national focus must remain on increasing the energy options available to us.  We must diversify.  And, as we do, we must improve our energy efficiency and continue to aggressively develop sources of energy that are clean, sustainable, and secure.   Working together - at all levels of government and across all sectors of our economy - we will.

My thinking in this regard is guided by what I learned working alongside General Georges Doriot at American Research and Development, my first foray into the business world after leaving a professorship at MIT.

General Doriot was a man whose entire life and being was focused on teaching leadership. and he was America's first venture capitalist.   Working with him was an education and. even though I never took his class at the Harvard Business School. he was probably the most influential teacher I ever encountered.

With that in mind, I'd like to conclude by relating to you a story that was a favorite teaching tool of Gen. Doriots'.

Three men are working by the side of the road out in the country.  A stranger walks by and, after watching them for a while, he asks the men what they are doing.

"I'm earning a living so I can put bread on my table and feed my family," says the first man.

"I'm breaking rocks," says the second man.

"I'm contributing to building a cathedral," says the third.

I'm sure that, working together, we will enjoy great success over the years - building cathedrals together.

Thank you very much.

Location: Denver, Colorado

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