The U.S. Department of Energy announced Sept. 17 expansions of its Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative in support of the American manufacturing sector and a new initiative to support President Obama’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030.
By advancing the development of innovative manufacturing technologies, investing in substantial energy efficiency upgrades at production plants across the country, and training American workers for the advanced manufacturing jobs of tomorrow, the DOE says it is helping make America’s manufacturing sector even stronger in an intensely competitive global market.
“In part due to a dramatic increase in domestic energy production and the Obama Administration’s policies and support, the U.S. manufacturing sector has seen a resurgence in recent years, adding 700,000 jobs since 2009,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz in an official announcement. “Continued smart investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, and the American workforce today, will strengthen our competitive edge for decades to come.”
Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030
In President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address, he issued a call to double energy productivity by 2030 and cut energy waste in half in American homes and businesses over the next 20 years. In support of that goal, the DOE announced a partnership with the Council on Competitiveness and the Alliance to Save Energy to launch Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030. This will allow private sector and state and local leaders to engage in energy productivity dialogues, commit to the goal, and share best practices for capturing the economic benefits of improved energy productivity. Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 will create a national roadmap to grow the economy while reducing energy costs, the DOE says.
Moniz announced the partnership at the Energy Department’s 2014 American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, jointly sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness.
Investing In Innovative Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
U.S. manufacturing is more competitive than it has been in decades, according to the DOE. Manufacturing output has increased 30 percent since the end of the recession, growing at roughly twice the pace of the economy overall, the longest period where manufacturing has outpaced U.S. economic output since 1965.
In order to accelerate American innovation and boost the nation’s competitiveness in the manufacturing technologies of the future, the DOE announced nearly $23 million for 12 projects across the country to advance technologies aimed at helping American manufacturers dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their manufacturing facilities, lower costs and develop new manufacturing technologies. These Innovative Manufacturing Initiative project selections leverage federal investments with additional cost share from the private sector to develop leading-edge materials, tools, and techniques that will save U.S. companies money by reducing the energy or materials needed to make their products, DOE says.
Increasing the Efficiency of U.S. Manufacturing
Across the United States, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. Through the Energy Department’s Better Plants Program, American manufacturers voluntarily commit to reduce energy intensity by about 25 percent over 10 years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector. The Department recently welcomed the 23 newest partners to the Better Plants Program from all across the country, including leaders in industry such as General Mills, Comau Inc., General Sheet Metal Works, and Novelis.
All together, the Better Plants Partnership has grown to encompass more than 140 industrial companies, representing about 2,300 facilities and almost 11 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. By cutting energy waste in their factories, American manufacturers in the Better Plants Program have reported close to $1.7 billion in cumulative energy savings over the past four years.
Training American Workers for Advanced Manufacturing Jobs
DOE says training America’s workforce for the jobs of the future is a crucial component of its goals to boost clean energy innovation.
For example, the DOE is supporting veterans with workforce training to help them land skilled manufacturing jobs after completing their service and sponsoring collegiate student competitions, such as the Collegiate Wind Competition, to help develop leaders in the clean energy workforce of the future. The DOE's Industrial Assessment Centers also provide hands-on training for hundreds of engineering students while providing energy assessments to small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
The Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI) is an effort across the DOE to strengthen U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness. The objectives of the initiative are to increase U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing clean energy technologies and increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by boosting energy productivity and leveraging low-cost domestic energy resources and feedstocks.