American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit Introduction
If as a country we focused on energy we’d be amazed as to how many other problems suddenly start getting a lot better. The reason it’s so important to invest in clean energy manufacturing now is that there is this global race for clean energy advantage.
We can be the leader in making these more efficient and renewable systems. That could be one of our greatest export products in the future. Robert Atkinson: The U.S. offers a number of different advantages for manufacturing. One is the largest market in the world. Second we have relatively low cost today. We have lower energy costs. Our labor costs for manufacturing are lower than many other countries like Germany and Japan. And third we have a good technology infrastructure. We can put all of those things together to provide a very strong and attractive package for manufacturers who want to invest in this country. For the last 20 years there’s been a view in the U.S. that all we need to do is innovate. We don’t need to worry about making, and now that view has been challenged, correctly so, where we have to make and innovate.
We tie together three processes: design, innovation, and manufacturing. And as we think of those as one integrated
process we are much more powerful.
About 70 percent of all the research and developing in the world is spent around manufacturing intensive businesses
and companies like Siemens another big global manufacturers like to co-locate R&D with manufacturing close to their customers. That’s because it really drives the innovation process much faster. The U.S. still has the best research and development universities and national laboratories in the world. So for most of these areas of advanced manufacturing the U.S. is going to be a place to develop a lot of that. There’s a lot of talk out there that we have a skills gap. We like to say there’s a training gap.
You look at the leading manufacturing countries of the world, whether they’re Japan or Germany or Austria; they are all based on a strong private sector combined with a strategic public sector in public/private
We have strength from our research universities. The secret for industry is to partner directly with them building the personal relationships so that professor can
go over and teach a couple courses with the company. And the company can go over and spend a half day with a professor. So if we don’t have these kinds of public/private partnerships here in America we’re just going to get left behind. It’s very important regionally to get everybody in the room and be talking about them so people can actually take some concrete steps.
If we want to have a clean energy environment and a clean energy marketplace we want to be a world leader in those technologies, not only for the U.S. but to export out of the U.S. we have to create some demand here. It’s up to us though to take advantage of this momentum in our direction in putting the right kinds of manufacturing that can take advantage of that and create the right kinds of jobs for this country.
If you take a look at, for example, the wind market, a lot of the latest innovations and technology developments have occurred here in the U.S. And a lot of that was made possible because of the product tax credit that was put in place in the U.S. which encouraged more investment here in the U.S. as opposed to offshore. You’ve seen tremendous growth in the market. Those technologies are becoming more and more competitive with traditional energy technologies. And it’s going to drive us toward a cleaner environment.
We can win this. We can be a successful competitor in the global market. Sustainable energy is the golden thread that
is the answer to so many of the problems in the world. It’s proven. It’s good common sense. It can be done safely for the environment, for the people. And right now it is energy advantage. It’s the right time to do that.