In a speech that referenced the 60s space race, Obama said the US needed its own ‘Sputnik moment’, which would galvanize it to master new technologies.
Clean energy, alongside biomedical research and information technology, was listed as a priority for investment. At the same time, Obama urged Congress to remove fossil fuel subsidies.
Obama said: "We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on thehardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo Projects of our time."
He went on to add: "So tonight, I challenge you to join me in settinga new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources."
However, not all of this will come from renewables. Obama said that while wind and solar energy would be integral, the US would need nuclear, clean coal and natural gas if it was to hit the 80% target.
Obama also said that by 2015, the US could become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road.
Commenting on the 80% target, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said: "We look forward to reviewing the proposal. It is important from a jobs perspective to focus on deploying clean energy sources over the next few years. Wind energy is ready to go now; we don't need to wait nearly three decades.
"We've got to more than double the renewable portion to have a truly diversified portfolio."