New energy has consistently been a hot topic in recent years. During the campaign, US President Barack Obama clearly stated the importance he attaches to new energy, environmental protection and energy conservation. After he was elected, in his first public speech made at George Mason University, he promised that the alternative energy output of the US will double in the next three years, and that his administration will raise the energy utilization ratio in government buildings and homes.
The energy security of the US, a major energy consumer, is vital to the country's economic livelihood. Sixty percent of US oil consumption relies on imports. After the two oil crises of the 1970s, in order to strengthen its energy security, the US started work on energy conservation to develop alternative energies and to increase its strategic oil reserves through utilizing progress made in technology. However, following these crises, efforts made by subsequent US administrations lagged behind the importance they attached to this issue.
Obama explicitly proposed to invest 150 billion USD over the next 10 years for the development of clean energy such as biofuel, as well as in fuel infrastructure, and to accelerate the commercialization of rechargeable hybrid cars. In addition, the period of federal tax cuts for renewable energy production will be extended by five years. A venture capital fund will be established with 10 billion USD of investment made in each of the next five years so as to ensure the commercialization of alternative and renewable energies with market potential. If Obama's plan can be smoothly implemented, it will help the US to reduce its dependence on imported oil, achieving a more secure energy supply.
Moreover, the development of new energy will play a positive role in the recovery of the US economy which has been dampened by the financial crisis. The move may be as significant a stimulus to the US economy as the Clinton administration's promotion of the development of the technology and application of the Internet. Both the 150 billion USD investment and tax preferences for new energy enterprises will not only promote the development of the new energy sector, but will also advance the growth of upstream and downstream industries and create a large number of job opportunities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted in its report, "Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World", issued September 2008, that job opportunities to be created by the renewable energy sector will overtake that of the fossil fuel sector.
Last November, the European Economic Recovery Plan issued by the European Commission also paid attention to new energy. The European Commission plans to take the opportunity presented by the financial crisis to intensify economic structural reform so as to enhance EU's long-term competitiveness. Its long-term competitiveness will be focused on creating a low-carbon economy and environmental protection technology. The plan proposes 10 specific measures, of which three are directly related to energy conservation and environmental protection: improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings, promotion of the rapid development of green products and development of cleaner technologies for automobiles and buildings. Developing cleaner energy technologies as well as energy conserving and environmentally friendly technologies may not only help to create job opportunities, boost the development of relevant industries and decrease energy consumption, in the long-run it will also be conducive in reducing EU's dependence on energy imports, guarantee energy security and acquire new market opportunities with advanced clean energy technologies.
Traditional energy is being depleted day by day, and the global environment is getting worse and worse. This is the main reason why new energy has attracted the interest of so many countries. However, new energy technologies have not been around for very long, and their development costs and utilization efficiency still cannot compete with those related to traditional energy. This hindered many countries from developing new energy. In a time of financial crisis, many developed countries are again making great efforts to promote the development of new energy. Aside from the fact that new energy technologies are becoming increasingly mature, important reasons for doing so include stimulating the revival of economies in the midst of the current crisis, creating job opportunities and taking the lead in future sciences and technologies. In the long run, new energy technology will certainly enhance a country's overall strength.
By People's Daily Online