Dr. Steven Chu, President-elect Obama’s recent choice as the next Secretary of Energy, is going to have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Obama has made energy a top priority, and it is going to be largely up to Chu to help figure out exactly HOW to develop our renewable capacity, reduce dependency on oil, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, etc.
But even if Obama had not personally advocated energy issues to the extent that he has, the position of Secretary of Energy is simply much more important in 2008 than it ever was before. For all intents and purposes, Dr. Chu will be the first Secretary of Energy to take office in a world where clean tech is a reality, not just a dream.
So who is this guy?
Well he’s no dummy, that’s for sure. He got undergrad degrees in math and physics, got a PhD in physics from Berkeley, served as a professor and department chair of physics at Stanford, as well as the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Oh yeah, and he also won the Nobel Prize in 1997. Not too shabby.
More to the point, he loves renewable energy. At LBNL, Dr. Chu helped kick off the Helios Project, a DOE-funded research effort to develop solar energy and biological-based fuels. The project endorses a broad strategy which involves looking into multiple areas – carbon sequestration, cellulosic fuel, geothermal energy, and improving efficiency. He doesn’t believe one technology will solve our problems, and he seems to have a good sense of which technologies should be employed when.
I think what’s most likeable about Dr. Chu is that, from listening to him speak, you get the sense that he is simply a scientist trying to do what is best for the world, with no hidden motives. His approach to the issues is honest and straightforward – let’s give people the energy they need in a way that is good for the country and possible with available technology. Of course, high ranking political positions can get to a man’s head (cough), but at least for the time being it’s nice to know that the nation’s energy future is being led by a man with optimism and ideals.
If you want to get a better sense of who he is, check out this video of a lecture he gave about the Helios Project, and energy issues in general.
written by tinabeans, December 17, 2008
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