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President Barack Obama last night restated a renewed commitment to clean energy and pledged to return manufacturing jobs to the US in his state of the union address.
America was "finally poised to control our own energy future" and had begun to turn a corner in competing for clean energy capacity with China, he said.
"Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."
Obama announced three new manufacturing innovation hubs where businesses will partner with the departments of defence and energy and asked Congress to help pass legislation that will create a network of 15 more hubs to "guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America".
"If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas," he said.
Echoing his passionate comments on climate change in his inaugural address last month, the president also said that more needed to be done to tackle global warming "for the sake of our children and our future". He added that if Congress did not enact "a market-based solution to climate change", he would.
"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Clean energy business groups welcomed the president's comments last night.
Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said: “We are especially encouraged by the president’s commitment to securing America’s place as a leader in clean energy innovation throughout the world. President Obama understands that the stakes are high and we must not fall behind other nations as the world shifts to emissions-free clean energy technologies like solar."
Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, said: "We agree that the most effective approach is for Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. However, if that is not possible in the short-term, clean energy industries will work with the administration to ensure that commercially available clean energy technologies are fully utilised to reduce emissions and improve the resiliency of our buildings and infrastructure."