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Energy Chief Steven Chu Calls for More Innovation

The United States is in danger of losing its global technological leadership to China and other rapidly advancing nations, warns U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Chu spoke at a recent National Press Club luncheon. He pointed out that China, which recently announced the world’s fastest supercomputer, is also making giant leaps in wind power, high-voltage electrical grid systems, advanced coal and nuclear plants, and rapid-transit technology. Meanwhile, he added, China is home to five of the world’s 10 largest photovoltaic manufacturers and three major wind-turbine makers. Chu’s remarks echo those of Arun Majumdar, Director of D.O.E.’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), who spoke at the first Scialog® conference sponsored by Research Corporation and the National Science Foundation in October. In his speech Majumdar called the global move to renewable energy the greatest economic opportunity since the first Industrial Revolution. Chu called the current energy situation America’s latest “Sputnik moment,” adding that “…given the enormous economic opportunities in clean energy, it’s time for America to do what we do best – innovate,” Chu was referring to the 1957 launch of the Russian satellite, which spurred the United States to commence a major, decades-long effort to improve the quality of scientific research and science education as well as to accelerate technological achievements. Chu’s PowerPoint presentation is available at the D.O.E. site. Scialog seeks to accelerate the work of 21st-century transformational science through funding research, intensive dialog and community building. Scialog has been conceived as a research grant program emphasizing annual meetings and the opportunity, encouragement and expectation to form cross-disciplinary teams to accelerate innovation. The program’s first three-year round is focused on solar energy conversion.

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