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Energy Secretary Steven Chu Looks Ahead

By Nicole Heller

Wayne Gretsky, when asked why he is such a good hockey player, replied, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.”

That was the essential message of US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s lecture to a full house of students, faculty, and community members at Stanford University on Monday, March 8: for greatness, the US needs to step up and lead in the global clean tech energy revolution.  Here is my elevator-summary of his talk:

  1. Climate change is real and it is caused by human actions. You can try to argue otherwise, but the science does not support it.
  2. The price of oil will go up, and we will need low-carbon technologies to power our world.
  3. We have a choice. The US can either lead by making the great technology innovations, like we did in the 20th century, or we can let other countries lead and import their technologies in the future.
  4. We need a price on carbon to galvanize the clean energy revolution. A price on carbon will provide a clear signal of the future, which will liberate the financial markets to make investments and the regulatory bodies to allow utilities to make adjustments in price.
  5. This is a time of “national need” and scientists must come forward and deliver the goods, so to speak. The Obama administration is providing university grants in clean tech, creating “energy innovation hubs,” and funding high-risk ventures in the ARPA-E program.
  6. Everyone too has his or her part to play: get educated and use power more efficiently. He even gave a demonstration of how to power down your computer in the systems settings – you don’t need to turn it off every time you leave – just put it to “sleep” that alone provides huge energy savings. 

And if you don’t know how to change your system settings, here are instructions to change them for your Mac or PC.


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