Transformation of the Energy Economy: The US experience

EGU’s Science Communications Fellow, Edvard Glücksman, will be blogging live from the United States next week as he takes part in a week-long study tour with other members of the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network (ELEEP), a joint project of the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Ecologic Institute. Check out below for a blog introduction to the tour and, if you have any questions or comments, please contact Ed by email.

Hi everyone!

I am leaving for the US this weekend to take part in a study trip under the theme Transformation of the Energy Economy: The US Experience, which includes visits to a range of energy- and environment-related institutions in Colorado and northern California.

Both states are experiencing pivotal moments in their history, not least California, the eighth largest economy in the world. The Californian economy has struggled over the past decade but has recently begun to show signs of recovery, partly because of a surge in sustainable energy production; its future energy policies and their wider economic effect will serve as powerful indicators of national economic health.

Colorado, a long-time epicentre of the US energy industry, has recently been thrust into the spotlight as an important swing state in the upcoming presidential election; that is, it is a state where no single candidate or party has overwhelming support. As the campaign heats up between President Obama and Mitt Romney, energy questions and their relationship to the job market, are sure to feature prominently.

Colorado Springs from above. Colorado’s future role within the US energy industry will have important consequences on the nation’s political landscape. (Credit: Edvard Glücksman)

An example of the political and socioeconomic importance of the energy market in Colorado is the recent announcement that Vestas, the largest wind turbine maker in the world, is cutting 20% of its jobs at its tower factory in the southern city of Pueblo. The Danish company cites the weakening market for the job cuts, blaming US Congress in Washington DC for not renewing the federal wind-production tax credit, set to expire at the end of this year. Vestas employs 1,700 people in four plants across Colorado.

I am hoping that my trip will build on work I carried out last summer, when I spent five weeks with the El Pomar Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit organisation. After receiving a thorough introduction to the US culture of philanthropy, leadership practices, and the nation’s complex state and federal political landscape, I am now ready to apply these basic principles to better understand the US energy economy and make more informed comparisons with the European energy market.

Stay tuned for my first impressions from Denver early next week!

By Edvard Glücksman

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