Dept. of Energy kicks off clean manufacturing initiative

Manufacturing and renewable energy recruiters can rejoice in synergy, as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the start of a clean manufacturing initiative designed to bolster American capabilities and competitiveness in cleantech manufacturing. The increased focus on clean production will also likely lead to stronger job creation. According to a recent report, the Southeast region alone announced 13,700 clean manufacturing jobs in 2012, some 80 percent of the national average.

Part of second term agenda
Keeping with President Barack Obama's stated focus on improving domestic clean manufacturing, the DOE announced the start to the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which it said will focus on expanding the range of manufactured clean energy products and making America more competitive in the area through private sector partnerships, new channels of funding and improvements to the clean manufacturing supply chain through analysis, among other strategies.

Fittingly, the DOE announced the start to the program at a department-run carbon fiber technology facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The facility, open to use for research and advanced manufacturing, will help U.S. producers test the manufacturing use of carbon fiber, which is less expensive and better performing than currently available materials.

"Our nation faces a stark choice: the energy technologies of the future can be developed and manufactured in America for export around the world, or we can cede global leadership and import these technologies from other nations," said David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. "… [T]he Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative will seize this opportunity to ensure U.S. leadership in the clean energy sector and advance the global competitiveness of American manufacturers."

Funding big part of effort
One of the most effective ways the DOE has identified to spur clean manufacturing in the United States is extending new opportunities for funding. As part of its announcement, the department said it had awarded more than $23 million in innovative research and development projects and publicized a $15 million fund to reduce solar energy manufacturing costs.

The DOE will also further the clean manufacturing initiative by improving outreach efforts in energy productivity training and hosting regional and national summits on cleantech production.

Encouraged by the attention clean manufacturing has received, businesses in the sector can look to renewable energy and manufacturing recruiters to help them find the talent they need to innovate and become more competitive.