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Supporting Alternative Energy

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The United States is making a substantial down payment on solar and geothermal energy. President Barack Obama recently announced that over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act will be used to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States. The funding will help the solar and geothermal energy industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come.

Geothermal energy is a clean source of renewable energy that harnesses heat from the Earth for heating applications and electricity generation. Geothermal plants can operate around the clock to provide significant "base load" electricity, or the minimum amount a power utility must provide to its customers. The Recovery Act is investing $350 million in this technology and will support geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System Resource Assessment and Classification system.

Solar energy is a rapidly expanding industry with a double-digit annual growth in the United States. The United States Department of Energy is focused on supporting the U.S. industry's scaling up of manufacturing, production, and distribution of solar energy technology to make it competitive with conventional energy sources. The Department of Energy will provide $117.6 million in Recovery Act funding to accelerate widespread commercialization of clean solar energy technologies across America. The funding will support Photovoltaic [solar cell] Technology Development; Solar Energy Deployment; and Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said "these technologies represent two pieces of a broad energy portfolio that will help us aggressively fight climate change and renew our position as a global leader in clean energy jobs."

President Obama said the United States has a choice: "We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy. We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century economy. That's the nation I want America to be."