Promoting renewable exports
The DOE is not the only U.S. government department promoting renewable energy. Any U.S. energy firm or supplier looking to export its goods and services can tap the services of the Energy Team at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), which is part of the U.S Commercial Service (USCS). The Energy Team has trade specialists in renewable technologies whose job is to promote U.S. business interests abroad. The USCS has representatives in 108 U.S. cities and 76 countries.
The USCS, which provides expertise in export counseling and market entry strategies, has hosted several trade missions. Last year a team from Southeast Asia toured several renewable energy installations in the U.S., including the Kramer junction Solar Electric Generating Facility in southern California and the Oak Creek Energy Wind Farm in Tehachapi, Calif. As a result of this reverse trade mission, millions of dollars in U.S. export sales were generated to India. The USCS also recently announced a Renewable Energies Export Initiative (REEI) that focuses on trade with India, Turkey, and Brazil, and it has formed a partnership with the American Council on Renewable Energy and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy to help promote and support the REEI.
According to Cynthia Torres, team leader for the Renewables Energy Group at the ITA, "The Energy Team is very familiar with the challenges facing renewable energy companies in today’s global marketplace. We have helped many U.S. companies identify favorable export markets—in other words, countries with favorable renewable energy policies, import requirements, and regulations."
Torres says renewable energy equipment has tremendous export potential. According to the U.S. DOE’s Energy Information Administration, worldwide consumption of renewable energy for electricity generation is expected to grow by nearly 60% by 2025. Many U.S companies are export-capable but aren’t sure where to start—and that’s where the services of the Energy Team come in handy. "We find that a lot of smaller businesses think exporting is just for large firms, or too burdensome," Torres said. "Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., so it doesn’t make sense for a company to limit its potential market." Going international also is important because exports help companies weather reductions in domestic demand and create jobs as well.
According to Torres, "Three big challenges American renewable energy companies face in international markets are finding qualified distributors/partners, understanding local regulatory requirements, and dealing with foreign energy firms’ smaller budgets." Torres said her team can help U.S. renewable energy firms meet the first challenge by identifying qualified agents, distributors, representatives, and joint venture partners through the ITA’s International Partner Search service. She emphasizes that finding the right partner is crucial. "A company that chooses the wrong distributor can spend years trying to resolve the situation, and during that period a lot of valuable time and potential market share are lost forever."
More information on the Commercial Service and renewable energy markets is available at www.export.gov and www. buyusa.gov/kern. Cynthia Torres can be reached at 760-342-4455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.