Chu speaks at Google about energy grant

October 28, 2009 9:15:31 AM PDT
U.S. Energy Secretary, Steven Chu visited the Bay Area and called for a revolution in green technology. The government is willing to fund some out-of-the-box, risky approaches with the idea they could bring great rewards.

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu hasn't forgotten his Silicon Valley roots. He showed up at Google's headquarters with news that his agency is funding $151 million in green technology projects.

"It's the idea of high risk/high reward that we hope to fund some of these very innovative projects that could transform the landscape the way the transistor has," said Chu.

Projects at Stanford, along with four Bay Area start-up companies, are among 37 funded.

A cross-disciplinary group at Stanford is looking into human factors that motivate people to save energy or to change their behavior.

Energy-saving technology alone doesn't help to reduce carbon emissions.

"We're really defining technology as having a human piece to it. So it's not just the smart meter because you've got to look at the data, understand it, being engaged in it, remember it, dredge up the information at the appropriate time, those are all human problems," said Stanford research co-director Prof. Byron Reeves, Ph.D.

The energy secretary says he's trying to spark a second industrial revolution, one that will create jobs and solve climate change issues at the same time.

RAW VIDEO: Steven Chu at Google

In fact, the research funding comes from the federal job stimulus program.

Dr. Chu also sat down with Google employees for a fireside chat, answering questions from CEO Eric Schmidt and from Google staff.

Chu identified one of America's challenges is taking the lead in green technology -- which China is trying to dominate.

"China's now the leader in high technology manufacturing in the world. They've captured that from Europe and from the United States," said Chu.

Although Secretary Chu pointed out that China is really banking on a green technology future, the U.S. will do it much better because of this country's inventive spirit.

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