Now that the Paris Agreement has catalyzed new urgency to address climate change, the world’s demand for renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions is expected to increase exponentially. Manufacturers and service providers in the United States, which are well respected globally for innovative and reliable technologies, are gearing up for export opportunities. At the same time, U.S. agencies are shoring up their collaboration in order to help them meet the challenge.
Officials from six U.S. government agencies gathered at the Department of Commerce last month to evaluate results from our cooperative efforts since 2010 to help U.S. clean energy companies access foreign markets. These agencies also charted a path forward on further promotional activities to position the United States to grow its share of the global clean energy market, which totaled more than $320 billion in 2015.
Known as the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) Working Group, these efforts are being led by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The RE&EE Working Group is a component of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), an interagency group established by Executive Order in 1993.
The RE&EE Working Group also includes the State Department, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each of these agencies has a specific role and resources to support clean energy exporters.
The RE&EE Working Group’s major accomplishments over the last two years include:
- Detailed global market assessments for renewable energy, renewable fuels, building products and sustainable construction, smart grid and more. U.S. government agencies and companies now use these reports to target their export promotion efforts. The reports are part of Commerce’s Top Markets Series. Going forward, the RE&EE Working Group agencies pledged to provide substantive input, including from the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, into Commerce’s Top Markets analyses.
- An interactive mobile app (currently in beta testing) developed by the Departments of State, Energy, and Commerce that showcases clean energy products and technologies deployed at U.S. embassies around the globe. This innovative resource will help foreign buyers locate clean energy technologies and services provided by American suppliers, which have a global reputation for superior quality. American companies can “opt in” to having their products and services included in this app by completing a short questionnaire.
- Launching negotiations with 16 members of the World Trade Organization on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) that would remove tariffs on a range of environmentally-friendly goods, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. High import tariffs across the world’s clean-tech market limit many countries’ access to these technologies. Eliminating these through the EGA would not only make clean energy technology solutions more affordable, it would be a triple win: boosting trade, spurring innovation, and protecting the environment.
Moving forward, U.S. companies will soon be able to find clean energy trade-related information in a revamped portal for renewable energy and energy efficiency exporters. The updated portal will feature improved navigation options and a more user-friendly interface. The portal will continue to serve as a dedicated space for information on market developments, upcoming trade missions, events, analyses, and federal export assistance programs.
Furthermore, agencies that provide financing of various kinds to facilitate U.S. participation in overseas clean energy projects (e.g., loans, export credit guarantees, or technical assistance) are going to take a closer look at their programs to see where the envelope can be pushed. This collaboration is urgently needed for emerging markets, where clean energy is in high demand but financing is a challenge.
In the coming months, the RE&EE Working Group will also address the most recent set of recommendations provided by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC), a group of 35 private-sector leaders providing advice and insights on export promotion efforts to the Secretary of Commerce. The REEEAC is also currently seeking nominations for members (deadline is August 15) for a fresh round of discussions that will ultimately deliver new recommendations to the next administration.
Importantly, one of the six recommendations made by the REEEAC was to revitalize this interagency Working Group…and we’re happy to have done it! By assisting U.S. clean energy exporters we can contribute to economic growth and job creation while also deploying solutions worldwide to save our planet.