Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
SOLARCON India 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Hello SOLARCON India 2011.
Thank you for that kind reception.
It’s wonderful to be here with all of you today. I’m sure you feel like I do — that this is the start of something special.
There is incredible energy and excitement in the air. And, I’m so happy to be a part of it.
For that and more, I want to thank the organizers — the SEMI PV Group. They’ve done tremendous work. And, they’ve put together a great event.
In fact, it’s been certified by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which shows you just how much we value your work and want you to succeed.
We are committed to, and believe in, both India and its solar industry because incredible things are happening here.
Just take a look at last year’s SOLARCON event, which was such a great success. More than 4000 visitors attended from 32 countries. And, they represented all walks of life: universities, businesses and governments.
And remarkably, SOLARCON India has only been around for a few years. Imagine what it’s going to be like ten, twenty years down the road.
The possibilities are remarkable. Clearly, people are drawn here for the same reasons that I am:
- the creativity …
- the entrepreneurial spirit …
- the innovation …
- and the opportunities to do big things in this new and exciting industry.
Think of how quickly solar has developed in recent years.
From 2000 to 2010 — according to one trade group — the world’s installed capacity of solar PV increased more than 2500 percent.
I repeat: 2500 percent.
And it’s not like this period was devoid of challenges. At one end, the dot-com bubble was bursting. At the other end of the decade, countries across the globe were dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Yet, through it all, the solar sector boomed. And, it holds so much promise for the future.
It’s one of those rare industries that achieves the triple bottom line: profits for businesses, jobs for people and benefits for our planet.
I know this isn’t news here. The renewable energy market in India is estimated to be worth roughly $17 billion dollars and is growing at an annual rate of 15%.
And, because of all the development and industrialization taking place, the need for power continues to grow. According to one estimate — to keep economic growth at current levels — India will need to add 150 gigawatts of capacity over the next five years.
This means creating an 82 megawatt facility every day for the next 1825 days.
Certainly, this is a huge challenge. But, it’s also an opportunity; it’s an opportunity India can seize through partnership.
That’s why I’m here today. I’m here as part of a trade delegation featuring leading U.S. clean energy companies.
All of them are ready and able to supply innovative technologies to the Indian market. We started in New Delhi a few days ago, meeting with government and industry leaders to strengthen our commercial ties to the region.
And, throughout the trip, my point has been clear:
These businesses offer quality products and services that would add tremendous value to India’s economic development.
Their expertise and experience would make them valuable partners for your ambitious solar development plans.
I know that the Indian Government’s National Solar Mission has created a $19 billion dollar plan to produce 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2022.
And, I want to commend the Indian Government for its commitment to shaping a cleaner future for its people.
The United States government supports your clean energy goals. But, we want to do more than support you from afar. We want to work with you here, on the ground.
We want to work with you every step of the way — throughout the whole supply chain. Too many people outside these doors don’t understand the full potential of clean energy.
When they hear those words, all they picture is panels on roofs and spinning wind turbines. But, clean energy is much more than wind and solar. Its sectors range from water to waste. And, there is a whole supply chain behind this work, one that has the potential to create thousands — if not millions — of new jobs, both in India and the United States.
We are talking about engineers and manufacturers developing more efficient solar cells and modules.
We are talking about mechanics building new electricity grids that can monitor and distribute solar energy more effectively.
We are talking about construction workers and installation professionals building new solar energy power plants.
I could go on and on but the point is clear: There are an abundance of opportunities in the solar sector. And, those opportunities grow when the U.S. and India public and private sectors work together.
My message today is that we cannot let these opportunities go to waste. We achieve much more as partners than we ever can on our own. That’s one of the reasons we are so enthusiastic about the U.S. – India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy — otherwise known as PACE.
As many of you know, last year, President Obama and Prime Minister Singh reaffirmed our shared commitment to addressing climate change and energy security. How? By supporting the clean energy sector. PACE is central to this effort. And, there have been some exciting developments.
For example, under PACE, a Joint Clean Energy R&D Center was launched. The Center will mobilize up to $100 million in public and private sector funding over five years. It will go towards research and development across the clean energy sector.
And, it’s important to note that the Department of Energy’s funding for this initiative was the first venture of its kind ever undertaken with a foreign government.
The bottom line: this partnership is leading to progress.
And, we’re seeing the same positive outcomes with other collaborations.
Some quick examples:
My department – the Department of Commerce – has led several clean energy trade missions to India over the past few years. This has led to new bonds of friendship, and yes, new business relationships.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — two other U.S. government agencies — have invested millions in clean energy projects across India.
I mention these examples because I want to make it clear that we are committed to working with you to shape a mutually beneficial future.
We do this because of our friendship and strong bonds. But, we also do it because it’s a huge opportunity for both our countries. Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles that prevent us from fully collaborating.
One of the biggest obstacles is Local Content Requirements. Let me start by saying that I fully realize we live in an age of transformation. Globalization and technology are changing the ways we live and do business.
In this new environment, all of us are looking to reposition ourselves for success. And all of us are looking for new ways to sharpen our competitive edge.
But we must fight the urge to link our promotion of clean energy to policies that protect local industries with unfair trade practices.
Local content requirements keep cutting-edge technology out of the hands of project developers — limiting the deployment.
Ultimately, they force consumers to pay more for less. In fact, the history of renewable energy is clear. When countries create unnecessary barriers — they may benefit in the short-term — but their consumers are eventually deprived of the world’s most cutting-edge technology.
On the other hand, when countries open their markets to foreign goods, competition increases for everyone:
- driving innovation;
- reducing costs;
- and attracting manufacturers whose supply chain needs create thousands of new jobs.
In the United States, our tax incentives are open to any company – both foreign-flagged and domestic.
The wind industry is a perfect example. Today, 96% of the global wind turbine market is captured by firms that have at least some manufacturing capacity in the United States.
These firms have created jobs across our country. But none of these companies were mandated to open facilities in the United States.
They did so because our market is growing quickly and our government treats foreign companies the same as domestic companies. It is our hope that India will take the same approach with their clean energy industries.
In the end, this is all about a chance and a choice.
Our two countries have the chance to create new jobs and new hope for our citizens. We have the chance to build one of the most exciting industries of the future. And, we have the chance to leave this planet healthier than we found it.
Now, we must make a choice.
Do we do this work separately or together? To me, and so many here, the answer is obvious: We need to work together.
As President Obama said, the United States and India will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. The question is, exactly how will it be defined?
I deeply believe that it will be defined by partnership, by community, by our shared values and mutual reverence for democracy and capitalism.
And, I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead to develop a solar industry that brightens the futures of citizens — from both India and the United States.
Once again, my thanks to all those who’ve organized SOLARCON India 2011.
It’s going to be an enjoyable conference.
And, I thank you for inviting me.
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