Gregg Siegel
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Fourth Industrial Energy Efficiency Symposium and Exposition



Thank you and good morning. Welcome everyone to the Department of Energy's Industrial Energy Efficiency Symposium and Exposition. For many of you, this is your fourth time attending Expo, and I am pleased that so many people benefit so greatly from this event, especially because of the diversity of the attendees here today. Already, I've had the pleasure of meeting private sector colleagues representing key American industrial companies, major universities and vital trade associations. And, of course, colleagues from Federal and State agencies and DOE's National Laboratories.


This, of course, is my first Expo. When my boss, the President of the United States, recently honored me by selecting me as his Secretary of Energy, we discussed a number of things. Chief among them was our shared commitment to reducing our nation's reliance on imported oil, and developing new, productivity-enhancing technologies that conserve fossil fuels and reduce energy-related pollution.


Of course, we didn't have this event specifically in mind as we discussed our common goals. But one of the reasons I so eagerly accepted the invitation to speak here today was the extent to which you in this room have been working to make these goals a reality. And, even more so, by the promise of the many, many more and even greater successes that we will have together in the future, many of them to be initiated and accelerated right here at Expo. I want to thank you all for your dedication and continuing excellence. And, I'd like to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of my colleagues in the Office of Industrial Technologies for bringing this very important event to life.


Every day our economy grows more dependent on energy. As a result, our continuing prosperity is directly linked to our ability to access adequate energy supplies at reasonable cost. Recent developments in electric, natural gas and oil markets have impacted just about all of us, both as consumers and as business people, and provide compelling evidence of the importance of developing a national energy policy that effectively promotes the dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound production and distribution of energy.


The development of this national energy policy is of the highest priority to the Administration. Due to its high priority, several agencies are working diligently on the project. It is being managed by the Vice President’s Office,  and the Department of Energy is playing a critical role.  As the Secretary of Energy, I am deeply committed to the development of this policy, which will increase domestic production of energy in an environmentally responsible manner, decrease our reliance on imported oil, increase our use of renewable energy, and develop new technologies that conserve fossil fuels and reduce energy-related pollution. The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will continue to play a critical role in the national energy policy, based in no small part upon its impressive record of developing successful cost-shared partnerships with the private sector and the states.


As an initial step in the development of our national energy policy, an assessment is now being conducted to learn more about the challenges currently faced by the private sector, as well as state and local governments, in ensuring that local and regional energy needs are being met.  This assessment is evaluating areas including: the impact of energy supply and cost on consumers and low-income families, the impacts of energy supply and cost on the Nation’s economy, the role of energy efficiency, impediments to the increased production of traditional energy resources, and the effective of local and national energy delivery infrastructure.


This initial step will provide a basis to begin the formulation of a recommended national energy policy. As part of its development, we will be interacting and listening to the insights of our partners, such as the experts in this room here today.


As the former Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Manufacturing and Competitiveness, and having represented the industries of Michigan, I understand first hand the vital role that industry plays in driving the Nation’s economy.  With the industrial sector using 36 percent of the Nation’s energy, I understand the need for adequate supplies of reasonably priced energy.  This is particularly the case for the energy-intensive industries that are part of Industries of the Future, which is the focus of this Expo.  Our collaborative partnerships with industry under Industries of the Future is an excellent example of the difference that advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and the application of Best Practices can make to the Nation’s energy, economic and environmental future.


As the largest users of energy, America's basic industries can benefit most from strides in the development of leading-edge, energy-efficient technologies. That's why I find the models of private-public sector industry partnerships such as those represented here today so exciting and so important to our nation's future.


As I noted, one of our overriding goals is working together to maximize the energy efficiency of industrial operations. Right now, successful partnerships between government and industry groups coordinated by the Department of Energy are developing and deploying advanced, energy-efficient processing technologies to conserve fossil fuels and reduce energy-related pollution in our most energy-intensive basic industries, and boosting U.S. productivity and competitiveness in world markets. You'll see many, many of these featured here at Expo. They range from near-term, incremental advances that have been quickly commercialized and are in use, to longer-term technology breakthroughs that will truly revolutionize the way we operate.


One example of breakthrough technology: Our aluminum R&D partnerships are pursuing several advanced aluminum cell technologies that promise to revolutionize aluminum smelting. When completed, these technologies will reduce energy requirements by 25% and completely eliminate cell-based carbon emissions. In another industry area, superior exploration and resource characterization techniques are currently being explored by some of DOE’s mining R&D partnerships. These new technologies will help the industry to find and define larger high-grade reserves with minimal environmental impact.


I invite you, while you are here, to discover more about these and other colloboratively-developed technologies that will benefit your operations. I would add that many industries also offer the opportunity to see these technologies in use at future Technology Showcase Events, or more informal tours. I urge you to learn more about these opportunities.


Other collaborative efforts are also helping to increase the efficiency with which individual plants use energy and materials. Together, we are discovering that there are simple, low-cost measures that can help a plant reduce its energy costs and improve productivity, enhancing the bottom line almost immediately. Department of Energy programs, such as Best Practices, offer a variety of tools to help plants identify and benefit from these opportunities in such energy-intensive areas as pumps, electric motor systems, steam generation and more. Similarly, manufacturers who have received assessments through DOE’s university-based Industrial Assessment Centers have achieved an average of $20,700 in annual energy savings and $34,000 in annual waste and productivity savings by making primarily no- or low-cost changes.


Another aspect of our work together revolves around increasing use of energy from renewable sources. Here too, advanced technologies increase our ability to utilize these renewable energy sources, and benefit from their cost and environmental benefits. For example, thanks to emerging technologies, the forest products industry currently derives more than half of the energy it uses from biomass. We look forward to seeing these impressive gains become even more impressive still; many aging recovery and power boilers in the forest products industry are coming due for replacement or rebuilding. Our joint challenge is to develop, demonstrate, and commercialize clean and efficient combined-cycle gasification technologies that can use biomass and black liquor, and do it in time to provide an economically feasible option before the industry’s older recovery boilers need replacing. To make this goal a reality, The Department of Energy is working in partnership with the industry to develop and demonstrate the technology in real-world applications, integrated with other plant operations. If successful, the technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 million metric tons per year by 2020 and increase the forest product industry’s power capacity by over 200%. At that point, they could sell power back to the grid, and a former energy-intensive industry could actually become a net energy supplier.


On the road toward meeting this goal, DOE recently awarded a project to Georgia Pacific to demonstrate black liquor gasification at its Big Island mill in Virginia. The company will be sharing the project's costs dollar for dollar, some $66 million over its five year term.


DOE's R&D partnerships with the Agriculture and Forest Products industries are also developing some exciting new technologies for producing bio-based materials. Being developed through the Department’s Bioenergy Initiative, these technologies will increase the technical and economic feasibility of using crops, trees, and agricultural and forestry residues to generate energy, as well as to make industrial chemicals and a host of everyday consumer goods such as plastics, paints, and adhesives. Already, our partnership with Cargill Dow Polymers and other companies has led to the development of a new, environmentally benign plastic material made from corn. The material, called PLA, can be used for a diversity of product applications, and Cargill and Dow Chemical have formed a partnership to build and operate a PLA plant in Blair Nebraska, strategically positioned right next to Cargill's corn milling operation.


These are just a few of the efforts underway. You will learn about many more of them in today's sessions and on the show floor. And, I have no doubt that the interactions here today will lead to the initiation of many, many more. As your Secretary of Energy, I look forward to the development of these mutually beneficial partnership efforts with the industrial sector.  Together, we can make a difference in developing and implementing a national energy policy that can ensure prosperity for future generations.  I'm sure you agree--the American people deserve nothing less than our best efforts, now and in the future.


Thank you, and enjoy Expo.


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Gregg Siegel

Business Communications Copywriter

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