OT-1118E | Date: 10/25/2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Premier Wu, Minister Shen, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 2011 U.S.-Taiwan Clean Energy Forum.
Introduction: Shared Values, Shared Problems
All of us face a common problem. Over the coming years and decades, global energy use and the demand for the world’s limited energy resources will continue to grow. Fueled by population growth and economic development around the world, this demand will place ever-greater pressures on scarce energy supplies. As a result, concerns about energy security will grow as well.
Meanwhile, all of us also face the escalating challenge of climate change. This change could have devastating consequences around the world, from droughts and floods, to severe storms and rising sea levels.
To deal with these threats, we will need to invest in more efficient technologies and find new, low-carbon energy resources to satisfy growing global demand.
By working together, however, we have a much better chance of success than if we go it alone. That is why the United States and Taiwan have joined together to host this forum.
Taiwan is a thriving democracy, a vibrant economy, and a close and valued partner. We share broad and deep ties of friendship that bind us together on issues ranging from regional security to economic growth to environmental protection.
Over the years, the United States and Taiwan have faced a range of demanding issues. What has helped us overcome all challenges, however, are our shared values. One of these is a shared commitment to ensuring a clean and prosperous future for all of our people and therefore to sustainable development.
We both, however, face similar obstacles to achieving these goals. For example, both the United States and Taiwan rely heavily on fossil fuels, especially coal, to power our economies. Because of the greenhouse gas emissions it causes, coal is a very problematic energy resource. This difficulty nonetheless also creates a shared opportunity for us to cooperate in developing new clean coal technologies.
As participants in this forum, you all are part of the clean energy revolution, part of the broader ambition of all people to build a cleaner and more prosperous future together, and you are in the forefront of making that future a reality. I applaud the work you do and I thank you now for your participation in this forum.
Today, I would like briefly to address three themes: the opportunity that the clean energy evolution presents to expand our economies, U.S. efforts to promote clean energy, and potential areas for cooperation between the United States and Taiwan.
I. The Prosperity Opportunity
It is critical to recognize that progress toward a clean energy future is not a zero-sum game. On the contrary, it is possible to develop new, clean forms of energy that help reduce our carbon footprint while also increasing our prosperity.
Tackling the energy and climate challenge in fact offers tremendous opportunities for businesses around the world. It offers the potential to expand into new commercial markets and to create new industries and new jobs in the clean energy sector.
Our partners in the private sector have an indispensable role to play in this transformation, as it is ultimately the private industry that will drive this clean energy revolution. So we need to keep working with companies from both the United States and Taiwan to continue to drive investments, spur innovation, manufacture new technologies, and provide the markets for our clean energy future.
For these reasons, I invite all of you during the next four days to see some of the work the private sector is doing toward this goal at the Taiwan International Green Industry Show.
We are already seeing major growth in the clean energy industry. According to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, last year investors pumped a record $211 billion into renewable energy worldwide — a 540 percent rise since 2004.
Governments, industries, and entrepreneurs — from Asia to Europe, the Americas to the Middle East — are moving aggressively to invest in clean energy technologies that can meet the growing demand.
Companies around the world are stepping up to the plate to spur innovation, bring new technologies to market, and help develop a clean energy future.
One example of this is the generous sponsorship of this forum by from AMKO Solara, Emerson Network Power, Dow Chemical Taiwan, and McKinsey and Company. Thank you very much for your support.
Another example occurred on a larger scale a few years ago when Citibank announced a ten-year, $50 billion initiative to address climate change through investment and financing that supports the growth and commercialization of alternative energy resources in markets around the world.
All this means that in order to be competitive, we must invest in clean energy innovation and development.
We need workers with the tools and training to meet future energy needs, and we need to upgrade our electricity infrastructure, to use energy more efficiently, and to develop and deploy low-carbon technologies. All of these are job generators that will help our companies and workers become more competitive and ensure our people enjoy a cleaner environment.
II. U.S. Commitment to Clean Energy
Next, I would like to take this opportunity to share some examples of the work we have been doing in the United States to adopt clean energy policies and solutions.
President Obama has recognized both the responsibility and the opportunity before us, which is why he acted swiftly once in office, taking bold steps to advance clean energy in the United States.
First, a commitment to double the amount of electricity Americans obtain from clean energy sources: from 40 percent to 80 percent of our power generation. This commitment has been backed up by $90 billion of clean energy investments under the Recovery Act of 2009, laying the foundation for our low-carbon future.
Second, a strong emphasis on energy efficiency, which the funds from our Recovery Act will also support. As U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu likes to say, energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit, it is fruit that is lying on the ground. We know where the savings can be made, we just have to take the necessary steps.
Together, these policies will provide the framework for growing America’s green economy in the years ahead. I want to take a few minutes to go through each of these two policies in a little more detail.
First, on the supply side we must develop and deploy clean sources of energy.
We are pursuing new ways to harness energy from the sun, the wind, and the soil. With support from the federal government, projects to supply communities with clean, renewable energy are being launched in every corner of the United States.
In fact, through the 2009 Recovery Act, we are supporting thousands of new renewable energy projects. For example, through our renewable energy tax grant program, the U.S. Government has already helped to support more than 15,000 projects. Together, these projects are providing enough electricity to power 3 million American homes.
The U.S. Government is also offering financing to support major renewable energy construction projects through our loan guarantee program. To date, we have supported more than 20 such large-scale projects that will generate enough electricity to power 1.2 million American homes and avoid carbon emissions equivalent to taking 1.5 million vehicles off the road each year.
While developing new sources of renewable energy is important, it is only one part of the equation. For the next few decades, we believe improved energy efficiency and conservation will present many of our best opportunities to cut carbon pollution and save consumers and businesses money.
Energy efficiency opportunities apply across nearly every sector of the economy. They can help reduce the energy we need to power our homes, our businesses, our factories, and our vehicles. For example, buildings alone account for 40 percent of America’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of this effort, the United States is pursuing a wide range of energy efficiency technologies, including in building systems, appliances, vehicles, and industrial equipment, as well as through building codes, financing tools, standards, and policy incentives that can promote investments in efficiency.
Our government at the federal level is also working closely with cities, states, and local governments to provide support and guidance as they develop their own efficiency programs and local building codes.
One of the most effective tools that we have to achieve economy-wide improvements in energy efficiency is the implementation of appliance efficiency standards.
Appliance standards lay out ground rules for manufacturers who sell products in the United States. They set minimum efficiency levels for different product types, removing the worst performing products from the market.
Time and again, we have seen these standards spur innovation in the marketplace — encouraging manufacturers to develop new products and new techniques that deliver energy savings at lower costs for the consumer. This not only benefits the environment and the consumer, but also the manufacturer — because as production costs fall, businesses do better too.
And at the same time, families and businesses pay less every month on their energy bills, which cycles money back into the broader economy.
In vehicles as well, efficiency standards are helping to reduce the amount of oil and gasoline we use, saving consumers money and strengthening America’s energy security.
For example, as a result of the historic fuel efficiency standards President Obama helped negotiate, beginning in 2016 passenger vehicles sold in the United States will be required to get 35.5 miles per gallon — that’s about 15 kilometers per liter. And as a result of just these standards, we will be able to save approximately 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the next five years.
In addition, we have an older electricity system in the United States, so we have a lot to do — from upgrading usage meters to installing better sensors and grid monitoring devices, and in some cases, to expanding transmission capacity.
Under the Recovery Act, the U.S. government has invested nearly $11 billion to begin upgrading the nation’s electrical grid and to begin implementing smart grid technologies nationwide.
A smart, modernized grid will improve the reliability of the electricity system, empower consumers to save money, and enable the increased integration of renewable energy resources.
III. Opportunities for Cooperation
As we look to capitalize on these opportunities and address these growing challenges, Taiwan and the United States must strengthen our economic, commercial, and scientific cooperation on clean energy research and development. We can do more together than either of us can do alone. This will help expand our economies, strengthen our energy security, and address the challenge of climate change.
There are five key areas in our view for bilateral cooperation: science and technology, clean coal, biofuels, wind and solar, and energy efficiency. I’d like very briefly to comment on each one.
1. Science and Technology
Both the United States and Taiwan have many technologies in hand today to begin a transition to a low-carbon economy. But, over the long-term, we will need breakthroughs and better technologies, and we need to find new ways to work together to achieve the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Like Taiwan, we have put science and technology at the core of our mission. From solving the deepest mysteries of basic science, to bringing together groups of researchers in order to tackle some of our greatest challenges, to looking across the private sector for transformative energy technologies, the United States is pursuing a broad-based clean energy research strategy to achieve energy breakthroughs.
Both the United States and Taiwan have a special role to play in solving the energy and climate challenge. The new Knowledge Sharing Platform launched at the APEC Energy Working Group Workshop in Kaohsiung last week was a great contribution by Taiwan to global efforts to adopt clean energy.
By bringing our best minds together and putting the full force of our vast technological and scientific capabilities to bear on this problem, we can accelerate innovation to find the answers we need.
2. Clean Coal
Recognizing that coal is likely to remain a major source of electricity generation for the foreseeable future, in the United States we have challenged our researchers to advance carbon capture and storage technology to the point where widespread, affordable deployment is possible within 10 years. This is a big challenge, but one that we believe is achievable.
The United States and Taiwan have had an agreement in place to work together on clean coal technology since 2004. Why haven’t we conducted any programs under this agreement? We both have some of the best scientists and engineers in the world. Let’s get them working together in laboratories and in the field to eliminate the damage done by coal-fired power plants.
Biofuels are a third important area for continued cooperation. In a few minutes the U.S. National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bio-products will sign an agreement with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute on algal biofuels research.
This is an excellent example of how our private sector institutions can take a leadership role in advancing clean energy technology. We should ensure that our policies create an environment that spurs new breakthroughs in biofuel science.
4. Wind and Solar
Next, wind and solar power. Both the United States and Taiwan are looking to diversify our electricity portfolios. We should look for new ways to collaborate in other renewable technologies as well. For example, Taiwan has tremendous hydropower resources, but there is also enormous wind and solar potential that could be tapped for both rural and urban electricity applications.
Taiwan successfully hosted the APEC Workshop on Photovoltaic Reliability and Durability two weeks ago. We should explore bilateral channels as well for cooperating on these technologies.
Through roundtables, working groups, reverse trade missions and more, we should discuss opportunities for increased collaboration and economic cooperation on wind and solar energy development.
5. Energy Efficiency
Finally, energy efficiency. In addition to pursuing new clean energy resources, there are also tremendous opportunities for collaboration that will help both of our economies use less energy by reducing the energy wasted in our homes, businesses, and factories.
Energy efficiency is one of the lowest cost options for reducing carbon pollution, promoting economic growth, and increasing energy independence, and for both the United States and Taiwan, there is much more we can do.
We should pursue initiatives that will enable us to share best practices in appliance standards, energy efficient buildings, industrial energy efficiency audits, and methods that can be used to finance these energy improvements.
There is much work ahead of us to build a clean, sustainable, and prosperous future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.
This is the challenge of our time. How we respond to this challenge will define what we become — derelicts of an old world order, or leaders of the global community in achieving a clean energy future. And in this trial, Taiwan and the United States have the opportunity to lead the way together, to a cleaner, more prosperous future for all. Thank you.