U.S. can cut emissions by helping transform industrial clusters

Read the full post at ACEEE.

As the Biden administration seeks to cut climate-warming emissions from industry, it needs to provide support for an approach that is showing promise in the United States and abroad: clusters of industrial companies.

These clusters—concentrations of companies providing specialized goods or services—offer a unique and powerful approach to developing and deploying low-carbon infrastructure. They can promote both competition and cooperation that spur companies to operate more productively in sourcing materials, accessing utilities (e.g., water, power), and advancing technology. Research Triangle Park, for example, is a cluster in North Carolina where the leveraged learning of co-located companies and three nearby universities has led to rapid advancements in biotech and pharmaceuticals expertise and capabilities.  

Clusters of companies are also starting to collaborate on the path to step-change reductions in greenhouse gases (GHGs), which is important because industry accounts for more than one-fourth of U.S. GHGs. To spur the growth of these clusters and capture their full potential, government must play a role.

To that end, ACEEE is proposing (thanks to input from more than 60 organizations across industry, labor, and NGOs) a new Department of Energy program to advance industrial clusters and create jobs. In our Innovation and Competitiveness at Industrial Clusters proposal, DOE would use a competitive bidding process to strengthen clusters that have strategic plans to pursue low-carbon technology, improve supply chain agility, increase efficiency and resilience, train workers, and reduce environmental impacts in surrounding communities.

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