U.S. energy infrastructure revamp may unlock $6 trillion market: Kerry

Source: By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States could potentially unlock a $6 trillion energy market by revamping the country’s fractured electricity grid, a move that he said would boost the competitiveness of renewable energy.

Kerry addressed the opening event of Climate Week NYC, a day before over 120 heads of state were due at the United Nations to address a summit on climate change and national plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to securing commitments from countries, the UN summit aims to generate agreements from corporate CEOs on how they will reduce their businesses’ carbon footprints.

While Kerry lauded progress on addressing climate change by the Obama administration, he said the country has a huge opportunity to scale up the use of cleaner energy by modernizing what he called its inefficient electricity infrastructure.

“Think of the competitiveness that would be created if we began to embrace the possibilities of that economy,” Kerry said.

The lack of a national transmission system prevents renewable energy projects from selling electricity to parts of the country beyond their local region and leaves a “gaping hole” in areas that do not have their own regional grid, he said.

“It’s the mother of all markets,” he said. “This solution to climate change is a win, win, win, win if people would stop and really look at it.”

For Apple Inc, the lack of a renewable energy supply near its major data center in Maiden, North Carolina prompted the technology innovator to create its own supply based on non-fossil fuels to reach a goal of having its data centers 100 percent sourced with renewables.

“The only way of doing that was to build it,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview with UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres at a separate event on Monday.

Cook said the company has met its goal of 100 percent renewable energy for data centers, and that its corporate facilities are 94 percent sourced from renewable energy overall.

Companies need not choose between economic success and environmental responsibility, he said.

“If you innovate and you set the bar high you will find a way to do both. The consequences of not addressing climate are huge. I don’t think anyone can overstate that,” Cook said.

Also on Monday, the World Bank said national and regional governments as well as some 1,000 companies will join forces to push for policies setting a price on carbon emissions to encourage a shift to cleaner energy technologies.