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Symbolism? German Solar Team Bests U.S. In Shadow of U.S. Capitol
21 Oct, 2009 01:13 pm
Team Germany has emerged victorious from the three-week Solar Decathlon that overtook the National Mall in D.C., shedding a solar-powered spotlight on young clean technology innovators. But the German victory in a U.S. dominated competition may be a portent for the future of U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation.
The victory, while certainly well deserved, seems particularly poignant in the context of concerns about U.S. economic competitiveness in clean energy technology innovation. Given that this year is the first in which international teams competed in the Solar Decathlon, it seems to be a harbinger of what's to come in the clean energy sector as technologies mature and the markets continue to develop.
As the debate over the Senate version of the House-pass climate and energy legislation continues to heat up, the symbolism of this event and the tell-tale results should send a very clear message to Congressmen: a) that the legislation under consideration will provide too little money, just $1 billion annually, to clean energy R&D, the most critical component of U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation and b) slashing the budget for President Obama's national education initiative, RE-ENERGYSE could have widespread ramifications for the strength and success of our clean energy future.
So, while the student participants will walk way from this exciting event with many skills that will allow them to succeed in a clean energy marketplace, Congressmen must glean a far more urgent lesson: if the U.S. does not make the kind of large scale public investments in clean energy RD&D now, the U.S. will miss out on the economic benefits of both clean energy innovation and a generation of youth who can be trained to lead the world in the clean energy industry.
Originally published at Watthead and the Breakthrough Institute
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This is certainly not the first time that foreign teams are competing. They have been doing it for some time now. Teams from Spain, Puerto Rico and Canada have been participating in the contest for years. Last year it was the first time that the German University from Darmstadt participated. They also took first prize.