The Future of Clean Energy is Bright

This is a guest post from Phyllis Cuttino, director of clean energy at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

After several decades in laboratories and niche applications, clean energy technologies are primed for accelerated and widespread expansion in the global power sector. In the United States and around the world, solar, wind and other renewable energy sources will represent a significant share of the new generating capacity deployed in the coming years and decades. These technologies will also be in demand as the world addresses persistent and emerging local and global environmental challenges and because clean energy will be sought after in the push to achieve greater energy security.

For all these reasons, the future of clean energy is bright. Less certain is the forecast for the United States’ competitive position in this fast-growing sector. On a variety of key measures–from innovation and manufacturing to deployment and exports–the United States is struggling to maintain its lead in the global economic and technological race.

Discussions with industry and other experts across the country reveal tremendous frustration about the inability to capitalize more fully on the emerging clean energy moment. Having invented and brought to market many of the prevailing clean energy technologies, U.S. scientists and entrepreneurs now find themselves buffeted by policy uncertainty and stiff international competition.

The United States has a proud history of public-private partnerships in advancing national competitiveness in key sectors–from railroads and automobiles to telecommunications and conventional energy sources. In view of current and projected investment trends, U.S. leadership in clean energy is ripe for the same kind of cooperation between business and government.

Above all, industry and other practitioners in the clean energy field desire some degree of long-term policy certainty. These leaders are highly confident of the ability of American industry to succeed as the clean energy marketplace expands at home and around the world–provided there is consistency and consensus in policy.

Policies that encourage the deployment, innovation, manufacturing and trade of clean energy technologies will help bolster the competitive position of American industry. In the process, these initiatives will enhance the nation’s economic, environmental and national security prospects.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you The Pew Charitiable Trust, for Sharing this!

Phillipa W.
Phillipa W4 years ago

I don't think we really have a choice in the matter. It's just something we have to suck it up and do.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago

"bright" is not really a word I think of for our future. I hope clean energy does win the day.

'Great White' EarthBeings
'Great White' 4 years ago

To positive, for what I am experiencing right now and predict will be our children's' and children's' children's' futures.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

I clicked on the link at the end of the article and it led to something from Pew Charitable Trusts about Clean Energy and how the world is investing in clean energy and R&D to improve clean energy and the United States is falling behind. Among other things they said the United States is investing only $5 billion a year in clean energy R&D which is only 2% of total US government R&D while energy is 9% of GDP, and that US government spends $80 billion a year or defense R&D. Our own military leaders are telling us that clean (renewable) energy can do more for our national security than anything our military can do with weapons. We should follow our military leaders advice and divert some of that R&D money from defense into renewable energy. I would not mind at all if the federal government would heavily subsidize the transition of our too big to fail fossil fuel firms from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Every business needs lots of money as in bottom-line profit to make a living for its owners. Anything in its mission statement beyond that is prediction about how best to go about making money. I wish government would subsidize our too big to fail oil firms to switch from tar sands petroleum to algal bio-diesel and our coal and gas firms to switch from coal and gas to wind, solar, and geothermal electric power.

Angela Ray
Angela Ray4 years ago

Good news for the world. The U.S. needs to catch up. I will invest in foreign cars from now on.

Ron B.
Ron B4 years ago

One thing that will never change is capitalism's quest for maximum profits and it doesn't care where those profits come from. Clean energy's ace in a hole is that it's sources (and potential for profit) are virtually unlimited. Fortunately for the planet, dirty energy's downfall is that it's sources are finite. So a clean energy future it is. It seems at least mildly ironic to me that after a large percentage of the human race dies off due to our current mistreatment of the planet, there will be just that many fewer people left in need of our new unlimited energy resources.

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago


Brian F.
Brian F4 years ago

Ronald Reagan was a stupid idiot. The moron took the solar panels down from the White House and declared renewable energy is dead, and dirty fossil fuels are our future. The myopic vision of Reagan, along with his complete ignorance is the reason we are not farther along today with our development of clean renewable energy. We should have listened to Carter, who understood that clean renewable energy was our best option for the future.

Today Germany leads the world in clean renewable energy, getting 25% of their electricity from clean energy. Germany leads the world in solar power even though they get less sunshine than every state in the USA. The German feed and tariff has proven that solar power can be decentralized and put on almost every home and business. German soft cost are one half the USA's for solar installations. Germany set a record on July 7th and produced 40% of their electricity needs for a short time from solar power. Germany is fazing out nuclear power, and has proven that with the right policies, clean renewable energy can become a reality. But since big oil, and the dirty fossil fuel industry own our politician, it can't happen in the USA.