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DOE Expands Initiatives to Support U.S. Manufacturing, Energy Productivity

In its continuing effort to support President Obama’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Wednesday it is expanding the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to support the American manufacturing sector and launch the Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 initiative.

The DOE said by advancing the development of innovative manufacturing technologies, investing in substantial energy efficiency upgrades at production plants across the country, and training U.S. workers for the advanced manufacturing jobs of tomorrow, the government agency is helping make the domestic 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 Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Continued smart investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, and the American workforce today, will strengthen our competitive edge for decades to come.”

During 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 homes and businesses over the next 20 years. In support of that goal, the DOE is partnering with the Council on Competitiveness and the Alliance to Save Energy to launch Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030. Under the initiative announced Wednesday, private sector, and state and local leaders, may engage in energy productivity dialogues, commit to the goal, and share best practices for capturing the economic benefits of improved energy productivity. The program is expected to create a national roadmap to grow the U.S. economy while reducing energy costs.

"Taking action today to increase our energy productivity, by boosting the competitiveness of American manufacturers and building clean energy technologies here in the United States, will help grow our economy for generations to come," Moniz added. The secretary announced the partnership at the DOE’s 2014 American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, jointly sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness.

The DOE noted that domestic manufacturing is more competitive than it has been in decades, with output increasing 30% since the end of the recession, growing at roughly twice the pace of the economy overall. It has been the longest period where manufacturing has outpaced U.S. economic output since 1965.

In order to accelerate American innovation and boost competitiveness in the manufacturing technologies of the future, the DOE also announced Wednesday nearly $23 million for 12 projects across the country to advance technologies aimed at helping domestic 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," the DOE said.

U.S. manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants, according to DOE data. Through the DOE’s Better Plants Program, domestic manufacturers voluntarily commit to reduce energy intensity by about 25% over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector. On Wednesday DOE 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% of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. By cutting energy waste in their factories, domestic manufacturers in the Better Plants Program have reported close to $1.7 billion in cumulative energy savings over the past four years, the DOE said.

In order to reach the DOE's goals to boost clean energy innovation, the department said it is crucial to train the U.S. workforce for the jobs of the future. To that end, the DOE is supporting veterans with workforce training to help them land skilled manufacturing jobs after completing their service to the United States 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 is an effort across the DOE to strengthen U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness. Its objectives 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.

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