Can America Lead the Charge in Securing the Supply Chain for Renewable Energy?

by | Aug 26, 2022 | Article

Recently, I wrote about the supply chain issues that present complexity and challenges to our current (and future) consumption of energy.

I am certainly not the only one taking a critical look at our existing supply infrastructure as it relates to the ambitious goals to transition to renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Recent Report on Supply Chains

On February 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy published a 76-page whitepaper in response to Executive Order 14017, “America’s Supply Chains.”

The whitepaper, “America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition,” was the summary of the department’s key findings around American weak spots and opportunities in the supply chain.

Thorough in its investigation and ambitious in its strategic recommendations, these were some of the strongly encouraged strategic approaches (from a policy level):

1. Increase Domestic Raw Materials Availability

The basis of this strategy involved looking into more efficient ways to handle Federal mining laws and regulations, along with improving labor standards for mineral processing.

Many of the renewable energy resources require international cooperation for mining — the United States is expressing an interest in improving their presence both domestically and internationally to procure the materials needed for renewable energy.

2. Expand Domestic Manufacturing Capabilities

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, expansion of the domestic manufacturing capabilities hinges greatly on the support of communities at the state, local, and tribal levels.

I believe that this is an important approach that all countries need to take for their own development. Cooperation at the local level helps to see through the lens of those most involved and affected and play to our strengths.

3. Invest and Support Formation of Diverse and Reliable Foreign Supply Chains to Meet Global Climate Ambitions

This strategic section discussed a greater need for mapping the world’s supply chain capabilities. 

As some renewable energy resources are still nascent in nature, even large powers like the United States still need to catch up on what every country in the world can bring to the table.

4. Create Clear Market Signals to Increase the Adoption and Deployment of Clean Energy

Deployment of clean energy refers here to both domestic deployment as well as exporting technologies and raw materials and technology to other countries.

This is not at all dissimilar from my own assertions surrounding Africa’s exporting of natural gas and oil. Sustainable development begins with leveraging our opportunities to be self-sufficient.

5. Improve End of Life Energy-related Waste Management

A short strategic section within the whitepaper touched on the need to provide support to recycled content supply chains, market development, and sustainable sourcing practices.

6. Attract and Support a Skilled U.S. Workforce for Clean Energy

Educating and empowering a labor force takes both an understanding of the macro goal that is being worked toward as well as the micro factors that its success hinges upon.

Globally, we all can benefit from considering how our workforce can be best empowered to work toward the energy goals that have been set.

7. Augment Supply Chain Knowledge and Decision Making

It’s clear from the U.S. Department of Energy’s report that countries both big and small are still in the research phase of understanding the complexities of the energy supply chain.

As we have grown more interconnected, it’s evident to me that we have much to gain by leveraging the strengths of each other in an equitable and thoughtful manner.

What Does the Report Say for the Future of Energy Stability?

Looking at the research and strategic plans of superpower countries like the U.S. can give us a strong indication of how people and organizations will act as we move toward our new economy of energy.

I believe that the U.S. Department of Energy’s report showed a lot of promise for learning from each other and collaborating internationally to meet our goals and ensure prosperity for everyone.

In doing so, we can help each country be the very best it can be and shore up the weakest points of the supply chain as a whole.

If you’re interested in reading the full strategic report on the clean energy supply chain from the U.S. Department of Energy, I’ve provided a link to it here.