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Steven Chu

U.S. Secretary of Energy (2009-2013), Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist and Professor, Stanford University

A distinguished physicist, innovative professor and the first science laureate to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu offers audiences insight on our energy future—and how advances in science are the key to solving our most confounding global issues.

Speeches

  • Good Science is Good Business: Leading the Way Toward a Brighter Future

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    As director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the first Nobel Laureate to serve as Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu has been at the center of scientific advances for four decades. Referred to by MIT Technology Review as a brilliant thought leader who is uniquely “animated by solving problems,” Chu has played a pivotal role in reshaping the Department of Energy, to improve its ability to stimulate private sector investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, and to enhance its role as a knowledgeable and honest broker in the energy industry. Chu offers audiences invaluable insight on the critical challenges of today: how developments in science and technology not only make good sense for science but also for business and economic growth. Chu discusses the numerous scientific and technological advances that have been achieved to date, what exciting new opportunities lie ahead, and why and how clean energy research and applied policy will both improve our lives and our national prospects for growth in business and industry.
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  • Managing Risks in Critical Energy Industries

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    Oil, gas and nuclear power will be needed in the coming decades, even as we transition to increased renewable energy. Chu argues that the process of continuous improvement of best industrial practices in these energy sectors is also good business. The experience Chu gained while working on the BP oil spill, with the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board subcommittee on fracking together with his broad technical knowledge, have given him insights into how to cost-effectively improve the safety of oil and gas drilling. Similarly, the lessons learned in the melt down of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactors revealed a number of risks that can be mitigated at low cost with the adoption of existing and developing sensor technologies.
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  • The Innovation Imperative: How Leadership and Culture Foster Innovation

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    While progress in developing new energy technology typically has a long time horizon, the successes achieved by the Department of Energy under Steven Chu—most notably ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy)—are groundbreaking. The ARPA-E initiative began funding energy technology research in 2009. Less than three years later, ARPA-E’s portfolio had reached close to $800 million, fueling millions of dollars of private sector investment and funding approximately 285 projects—such as a 1-megawatt silicon carbide transistor to engineered microbes that use hydrogen and carbon dioxide to make liquid transportation fuel. Similarly, the Energy Innovation Hubs, designed to strengthen the translation of scientific discovery into successful commercialization, are off to a strong start and have garnered broad-based support. Drawing from his own experiences as a scientist and manager at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Stanford, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Chu discusses how one can shape a work environment that fosters innovation by creating a culture that invites scrutiny, open discussions and constructive criticism.
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  • Renewing Our Independence Through Renewable Energy: Challenges and Opportunities

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    Developing efficient, affordable alternatives that serve to decrease the use of fossil fuels, minimize the dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and mitigate environmental concerns around the globe is a critical component of renewable energy research and technology. Steven Chu—recent U.S. Secretary of Energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and esteemed university professor—discusses with audiences the current state of clean energy, including the numerous cutting-edge advances that have been made over the course of the last four years and the myriad of government-industry partnerships that have been established, providing America’s innovators and entrepreneurs with a competitive edge in the global arena. In a dynamic and uniquely accessible fashion, Chu discusses the roles and responsibilities of government and industry in clean energy development and implementation, the transformative and positive impact of renewable resource advances on job growth, independence and prosperity and why and how renewable energy will give us, the U.S., an new set of economic opportunities. Chu also explores the development of specific business models that can best seize the economic opportunities, both domestically and around the world, in the transition to sustainable energy.
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