The clean energy economy is poised to be the growth industry of the future worldwide, and the United States could be at the vanguard of that trend if we adopt strong renewable energy policies today. But we will have to pick up the pace to stay competitive internationally. China—already the world’s largest producer of solar panels—recently committed to increasing its solar power capacity 15 times over by 2011, aiming for two gigawatts of installed capacity by that year. Similarly, India is planning to boost solar power from near zero to 20 gigawatts by 2020, part of an ambitious $19 billion, 30-year plan to increase the share of renewables in that country’s energy mix.
The United States must continue to expand its burgeoning clean energy industries—wind, solar, biomass, geothermal power, and efficient vehicles, among others—to keep pace with other countries. Strong policies to promote investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation, as part of a comprehensive climate plan, will create the momentum to keep these industries internationally competitive.