Former Secretary Chu gave the opening keynote speaker at the Energy Summit in Santa Barbara last week. After four years at the head of the Department of Energy, the former Nobel Prize winner decided to go back to academics and research. Often caught in the cross-fire of Washington politics after the Solyndra debacle, he calmly kept acting on his firm belief that technology innovations can tackle humanity's biggest challenges.
This was the underlying theme during the keynote that he gave at the conference. The 4th edition of the Energy Summit hosted by the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB. It was focused on materials for a sustainable future. Dr. Chu described some of the recent scientific breakthoughs in transportation, power electronics, photo-voltaics and energy storage. During the follow-up fire-side chat with Oracle's Chairman Jeff Henley, he called for increasing funding towards research. Yet, he warned that we can not separate innovation in materials from the constraints in manufacturing processes to create jobs in the US. A lot of the past research in materials was started here but ended up overseas for lack of pragmatism.