Is the Energy Race our new "Sputnik" Moment?

U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu presentation to the National Press Club

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Uploaded by Essinova on December 8, 2010

In a speech to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on November 29, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steve Chu compares the "energy race" with China today to the "Sputnik" crisis in the 1950's. Mr. Chu expresses serious concern that the U.S. leadership in innovation is once again at risk, stressing the key role the government must play in accelerating energy innovation, and warning against under-funding of R&D.

The Energy Secretary highlights a number of high-impact technology breakthroughs U.S. innovation could produce, such as

- affordable electric vehicle batteries with 500-mile range;
- transformative approaches to lowering the cost of bio-fuels;
- abundant, domestic fuel produced directly from the sun;
- solar PV energy at 1/4th the fully installed cost;
- dramatically reduce carbon capture and storage (CCS) costs; and
- design by computer simulation that will eliminate costly development cycles.

Facing the new "Sputnik" challenge, Mr. Chu recommends that the U.S.

- formulate sensible, long range energy policies that have bipartisan support to guide the private sector of U.S. and
- increase support of energy R&D, especially where private investments don’t recoup the full value of the shared social good or when a new technology would displace an embedded way of doing business.

In a recent blog article series, Essinova contributor Nick Sarkisian wrote about the many stunning development China is undertaking in renewable energy, from his personal observations visiting Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Tags: Steve Chu, National Press Club, energy policy, China, R&D, Wen Jia Bao, World Economic Forum, coal, Suntech, America Energy Innovation Council, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, ARPA-E, batteries, carbon capture, artificial photosynthesis, Fuels from Sunlight Hub

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