Skip navigation

How to export energy efficiency technology

One goal of the Obama administration is to boost U.S. exports of energy efficiency equipment to become the leading exporter of clean energy technologies. One result is the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative. The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee run by the Commerce Dept. recently issued a report on the state of attempts to coordinate U.S. Government programs supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency exports.

In this vein, there are 23 new commitments from eight U.S. Government agencies aimed at boosting energy efficiency exports over the next five
years. But the report notes U.S. exporters often find themselves competing with companies whose governments are investing greater amounts to reduce the cost of capital and to increase the volumes of financial assistance
available for exports. In fact, sometimes financing is tied directly to the actual export of a specific product or service.For example, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries reported $2.7 billion in tied and untied aid for renewable energy over the last four years. The wind industry received the largest amount of tied aid support (about%), with hydro receiving the second-largest share (about 35%).

The report also notes many countries with vast potential RE&EE (renewable energy, energy efficiency) markets remain unattractive to U.S. exporters. The financing of RE&EE projects is often complicated, involving many investors and multiple sources of financing. So agencies such as the Ex–Im Bank will create a streamlined procedure for processing RE&EE transactions.
Ex–Im Bank recently put in place a Solar Express program for expedited processing of small solar transactions of at least $3 million but no more than $10 million.

The U.S. does indeed export some products in this area. It exported $318.7 million of wind energy equipment in 2009, with an annual average growth of 29.1% between 2007 and 2009. But imports dwarfed exports, however, with imports of more than $3.67 billion in 2009. Average annual imports grew slightly from 2007 to 2009 at an average rate of just under 0.35%
annually. The trade imbalance is because of the rapid rise of U.S. demand for wind turbines, which has outstripped U.S. wind energy manufacturing capacity.

Exporters of U.S.–manufactured PV equipment face a highly competitive marketplace. Despite capturing only 6% of global manufacturing
capacity, the U.S. exported a relatively robust $1.18 billion of cells, modules, and panels in 2009. And the U.S., along with Spain and North Africa, are
expected to be the dominant markets for concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. CSP projects are in operation only in the U.S. and Spain, although
many more projects are expected to be completed within the next five years.

But European manufacturers dominate the equipment market for receivers and mirrors. Accordingly, although the global CSP market is still small, U.S. imports are significantly higher than exports. Some European manufacturers have established manufacturing plants in the U.S., which will likely be used for
projects here. U.S. exports in this category are centered on electric generators used to generate electricity from the steam produced by the CSP plant.

The U.S. exported $70.1 million worth of geothermal equipment in 2009. The market potential for U.S. energy-efficient technologies and services is likely substantial, although there's no specific trade data to support these projections. Trade flow data on products that are considered energy efficient are not captured in the Harmonized Tariff System or North American Industry Classification System. In addition, trade data collection does not differentiate
energy-efficient and conventional building and industrial products.

You can read the full 40-page National Export Initiative report here:

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.