The following is a guest post by Dr. Stephanie Burns, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dow Corning Corporation:
This month’s second annual National Clean Energy Summit was an amazing opportunity for me to discuss the transformation of United States’ energy policies with some of this country’s influential names in innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency. The energy, commitment and concern expressed by former President Bill Clinton, former Vice-President Al Gore, President Obama’s cabinet secretaries Steven Chu and Hilda Solis, T. Boone Pickens, and organizer Sen. Harry Reid was contagious and I, as well as the thousands of others who attended, left with optimism that we are on the forefront of a clean-energy revolution that will create millions of jobs nationwide and place us firmly on a path toward energy independence.
Of particular interest to me is the unlimited potential of solar power. As technology development in the solar industry focuses on reducing the cost and enabling a self-sustaining industry with almost infinite growth potential, silicon-based materials are playing a pivotal role in helping solar energy producers invent the future.
As one of the world’s largest researchers, developers and manufacturers of those materials, Dow Corning products and solutions are used in solar cell manufacturing, solar module assembly and installation. All of our materials, as well as our research and development efforts in solar, are designed to help the solar industry move toward being economically competitive with conventional energy sources, and become a sustainable energy option globally. And we’re getting closer and closer to that reality every day.
Our long-term commitment to sustainability and to providing solutions along the entire solar value chain is demonstrated by the more than $5 billion in investments we’ve announced over the past five years. Those investments include working to expand polycrystalline silicon capacity by 90 percent within the next four years at the Hemlock Semiconductor Group, of which we are majority shareholder; construction of our first facility to produce high purity monosilanes – the key raw material used in the production of thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays; and the opening of a Solar Solutions Application Center in Michigan and announcement of a second center in Korea at which we work with customers to develop, evaluate, and pilot materials solutions used to manufacture solar panels.
What is needed, urgently, is commitment to make America a 21st century solar power. We ship most of our solar-related materials to Germany, Japan, Korea and China for the production of solar cells and modules. We’d like to see more of those cells and modules being made here in the US, creating jobs and economic opportunity. To do that, we need smart and effective government policies from Congress that will help the private sector thrive.
That is one reason we are also aggressively promoting a Four Point Policy Plan that outlines the steps needed to encourage the adoption of solar energy technologies and support a new renewable energy manufacturing sector in America. The plan calls on Congress and the Obama Administration to:
• Enact a broad federal legislative and regulatory package, designed to encourage the rapid growth of a viable renewable energy industry and encourage consumer adoption.
• Increase investments in research and development to support innovation in solar energy technologies.
• Increase renewable energy-related education, training and job creation.
• Establish the federal government as a leader in the utilization of clean energy technologies.
America is a nation of innovators; we have overcome every challenge and seized every opportunity that has come before us. Today is no different. We believe that the power of solar energy will shine far brighter, far faster, by working closely with others who are committed to advancing common goals and bringing technologies like solar energy to more people around the world. This can not be delayed.
The sun is waiting.
ED note: Check out videos from the National Clean Energy Summit here.
Dr. Stephanie Burns is Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dow Corning Corporation, headquartered in Midland, Michigan.