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The global clean energy marketplace is expanding rapidly, but the competitive position of the U.S. industry is at risk because of increased competition abroad and uncertain policies at home, according to a new report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The study states that revenue in the global clean energy sector could total $1.9 trillion from 2012 to 2018. However, roundtable discussions with more than 100 U.S. industry leaders reveal that the country is at a crossroads: Private investment, manufacturing and deployment of renewable power have been constrained by the lack of a long-term, consistent energy policy, Pew says.

The firm’s research predicts that revenue associated with the installation of wind, solar and other renewable energy will grow at a compound annual rate of 8%, rising from $200 billion in 2012 to $327 billion annually by 2018. In the U.S., clean energy installations are projected to reach 126 GW, which would more than double non-hydroelectric generating capacity.

However, the U.S.’ position in the industry is constrained by numerous challenges, including tight credit markets, growing international competition and an uneven playing field with fossil fuels.

The Pew report makes the following policy recommendations to improve the U.S.’ competitiveness in the clean energy sector:

  • Establish a clean energy standard to guide deployment and investment for the long term;
  • Significantly increase investment in energy research and development;
  • Enact a multiyear but time-limited extension of tax credits for clean energy sources;
  • Level the playing field across the energy sector by evaluating barriers to competition;
  • Renew incentives for domestic clean energy manufacturing; and
  • Create a strategy to expand markets for clean energy goods and services abroad.

"Industry is telling us in no uncertain terms that the United States needs to adopt clear, consistent, long-term energy policies that allow American businesses to thrive, make our country more energy secure and advance environmental imperatives," says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's Clean Energy Program.

"Our research shows that there is a multitrillion-dollar opportunity in the clean energy sector,” she adds. “U.S. industry has the capacity to be a leader, provided we have the right policies in place. It's time for Congress to support a comprehensive energy strategy by delivering long-term certainty for businesses and investors in renewable power."


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