Recap of the 20th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo

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This week I attended the 20th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo in Washington, D.C. The yearly event is co-convened by the bipartisan House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus, the Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus, and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), and we’re grateful they host it! It’s a valuable opportunity for clean energy businesses, advocates, and agencies to network and interact with congressional staff on the hill. 

This year the expo included more than sixty exhibitors from trade groups like the Copper Development Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Minnesota’s own advocacy group the BlueGreen Alliance.

The event also featured eight panels with topics that included: ultra low & net-zero energy buildings; energy efficient building systems; grid, storage, and transmission; hydro, solar, and wind renewable energy; as well as, bio-based energy and materials. Each panel session I attended looked to be full of congressional staffers and interns, as well as attendees from industry.

While CEEM is focused on strengthening the market and policies for clean energy businesses in Minnesota, this expo provided a valuable national perspective. It was great to meet new and innovative organizations to learn about trends in their field, as well as catch up with our partners like the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

Through these conversations some of the things I found most exciting were:

  • The scale of the energy storage market – industry analysts forecast $240 billion will be invested in grid storage applications in the U.S. through 2020, and in Q1 of last year there were 91,000 U.S. jobs in energy storage. How many jobs will there be in 2020?
  • While much of the public conversation on biofuel is about cellulosic ethanol, biofuels are made from many different substances, and several stakeholders were discussing their work to change regulations that will unlock markets for biofuels and find broader applications.
  • The impressive opportunities for energy efficiency. I learned about emerging technology that improves the conversion of alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) resulting in higher rates of energy savings; as well as smart lighting technology that will not only make our buildings more efficient, but the buildings’ improved sensitivity to their occupants will make the people in them more efficient—and healthy!

Overwhelmingly, the event highlighted the innovation and diversity of the clean energy industry. Across the U.S. 6.4 million workers are employed in the design, installation, and manufacture of energy products and services, so it is important that government—at all levels—knows about clean energy workers’ contribution to the economy.

While in D.C. I also met with staff from Sen. Franken's office, Rep. Paulsen, and Rep. Emmer’s offices. We discussed the important products, services, and jobs being created by Minnesota's energy efficiency and clean energy business community, as well as, the need for strong federal policy to further unleash these new innovations and stimulate additional investment. Further, our team here at CEEM is committed to continuing this educational effort.

-Posted by Lily