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A Look Back: Four Years with Dr. Chu

April 22, 2013 - 5:32pm


A Look Back: Four Years with Dr. Chu

In honor of Secretary Chu's last day at the Department, here's a look back at his time overseeing important investments in science, innovation, and clean energy technologies that are making America more competitive and helping us win the race for a clean energy future.

Storified by Energy Department ·
Mon, Apr 22 2013 21:13:48

For more than four years, he has provided remarkable leadership in pursuing both President Obama’s nuclear security agenda as well as an all-of-the-above approach to energy that invests in clean energy, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, addresses the global climate crisis, and supports the clean energy jobs of the future. 
Joining the Obama Administration ·
On January 21, 2009, Secretary Chu was sworn in as the 12th Secretary of Energy along with his fellow Cabinet members.

As the 12th Secretary of Energ | Facebook ·
Newly-inaugurated President Obama visited the Energy Department February 7, 2009, to speak with employees. Here, he chats with the recently confirmed Secretary of Energy. 

_CEW2531 ·
A few days later, in direct response to the economic crisis and at the urging of President Obama, Congress passed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create jobs and spur economic activity.

Under Secretary Chu's leadership, more than $36 Billion in
Recovery Act investments were made by the Department -- helping to
support clean energy jobs across the country, research and development for
groundbreaking science and technology projects, and energy efficiency upgrades
for homes, businesses and local governments across the country.

Transforming the American Economy Through Innovation ·
In 2009, the Department launched ARPA-E (the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy) which have since funded over 275 potentially transformational energy technology projects. 
How ARPA-e is "Winning the Future" ·

ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit 2011, 53 of 83 ·
In this photo, Secretary Chu learns about Michigan State University's game-changing technology funded by ARPA-E: an internal combustion engine that's three to four times better at burning fuel that's needed for a power generation system in a hybrid car (and considerably smaller than the drive-trains of today).
Secretary Chu also hosted various ARPA-E conferences, bringing together industry and government to "swing for game-changing home runs that can fundamentally transform energy technologies."
ARPA-E 2011 Keynote: Secretary Steven Chu ·
ARPA-E 2012 Keynote: Energy Secretary Steven Chu ·
Secretary Chu also made history in 2009 as the first Cabinet Secretary to join Facebook, where he's been able to communicate directly with over 20,000 followers about the latest in energy technology and various energy issues facing our nation.
Secretary Chu also hosted the 2009 and 2011 Solar Decathlon competitions on the National Mall. Another innovative initiative of the Energy Department, the Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. 
Solar Decathlon Update from Secretary Chu ·

Solar Decathlon 2009 on the National Mall, with Sec. Chu ·
Above, the Secretary visits a team's solar-powered house built on the National Mall. The next competition will be held this October in Irvine, CA.

Secretary of Energy viewing a simulated nuclear reactor core ·
On December 22, 2009, Secretary Chu announced an investment of $366 million to establish and operate three new Energy Innovation Hubs focused on accelerating research and development in three key energy areas: production of fuels directly from sunlight; improving energy-efficient building systems design; and computer modeling and simulation for the development of advanced nuclear reactors (like in the photo above).
Energy Innovation Hubs Online Townhall: A Home for Scientific Collaboration ·
Since then, the Department has announced two more Hubs to dramatically improve energy storage systems and to address the supply and use of critical energy materials.
In June 2010, Secretary Chu convened the first ever Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Washington, D.C. The CEM is a high-level global forum to promote policies and programs that advance clean energy technology, to share lessons learned and best practices, and to encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy. In the photo below, Secretary Chu and fellow Energy Ministers gathered for the third Clean Energy Ministerial meeting on 25-26 April 2012, in London, UK, to discuss progress toward clean energy goals.

Clean Energy Ministerial 3 ·
In February 2011, President Obama, building upon the investments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, announced the Better Buildings Initiative to make commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020 and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency. 
Since then, the Department has secured $2 billion in commitments from more than 100 major companies, universities, hospitals, retailers, cities and states to upgrade 2 billion square feet of commercial and industrial space by 2020.
Also in February 2011, Secretary Chu announced the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies before the end of the decade. By reducing the cost for utility scale installations by about 75 percent to roughly $1 a watt — which would correspond to roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour — solar energy systems could be broadly deployed across the country.
In 2012, the Secretary made another social media first when he joined @ENERGY's Twitter chat to answer questions from online participants about the National Labs.

Hi everyone. Steven Chu here to answer your #labchat q's. -Chu ·
Energy Department
The past four years have been productive ones for the energy industry, as President Obama pointed out in his 2013 State of the Union when he announced that the United States has "doubled ... the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar -- with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it." This was driven in part by Secretary Chu's dedication to investing in the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies.
As Secretary Chu leaves the Department, we have doubled the production of clean, renewable energy from wind and solar, while net petroleum imports are down more than 15 percent and total U.S. natural gas production is at the highest level in more than 30 years.  As President Obama said, “Because of his leadership, this country is further along on the path to energy independence.  It’s better positioned for the jobs and industries of the future.”

INFOGRAPHIC | Made in America: Clean Energy Jobs: cc: @e2org ·
Energy Department
As Secretary Chu said in his departure letter, "In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas." His became accomplishments in four short years as he helped grow America's energy economy, create thousands of jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and put us on the path to win the global race for clean energy.