By Jeff McMahon
Former Energy Sec. Steven Chu told a roomful of scientists in Chicago they should think now what they could do with renewable electricity that costs only 1.5¢ per kilowatt hour.
And, he suggested, those thoughts should include hydrogen.
“The cost of renewable energy at the best sites is 2¢ per kilowatt hour. And that is going to widen,” Chu said at the University of Chicago in March. “I’m an advisor to Royal Dutch Shell. They think within a couple decades the very best sites will go to 1.5¢ per kilowatt hour cost of electricity.
“Okay what do you want to think about, knowing that this will likely happen? Which is a good way to position yourself as a graduate student and a post-doc and a researcher. What research do I want to do, anticipating this will happen? Don’t wait for it to happen.”
Chu won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, led the Energy Dept. for the first Obama term, and recently became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His lunchtime lecture at Chicago’s Knapp Center for Biological Discovery was so popular that the auditorium’s 125 seats were full, and students and scientists crowded in the aisles, peering around walls, or listening from behind them. More were turned away.
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