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US Energy Secretary Resigns 141

An anonymous reader writes "Today Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, released a letter indicating he won't continue to hold the job for President Obama's second term. He'll continue until the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February, and then perhaps a bit longer until a replacement is found. MIT's Technology Review sums up his contributions thus: 'Under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Energy has changed the way it does energy research and development. He leaves behind new research organizations that are intently focused on solving specific energy problems, particularly the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy as well as several Innovation Hubs. The latter were modeled closely on Chu's experience working at the legendary Bell labs, where researchers solving basic problems rubbed shoulders with engineers who knew how to build things. At one Innovation Hub, for example, researchers who are inventing new materials that can absorb sunlight or split water are working together with engineers who are building prototypes that could use those materials to generate fuel from sunlight. Chu also brought an intense focus on addressing climate change through technical innovation, speaking clearly and optimistically about the potential for breakthroughs to change what's possible.'"
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US Energy Secretary Resigns

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:42PM (#42767587)

    Chu DID advocate for higher oil prices:

    "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."
    - Chu, September 2008

    Then he became Secretary of Energy and it became inconvenient and he retracted it.

  • by beckett ( 27524 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:21PM (#42767875) Homepage Journal

    Solendra, look it up. Just because you are lazy or stupid doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    ok, lets look it up: Solyndra recieved $535M [] in a federal subsidy, and in response, China put up $35 Billion [] to subsidize their own solar research and industry.

    It appears that both an agressive foreign entity and a softening PV market [] played roles in Solyndra's demise.

    what do you mean by 'look it up', exactly? i don't read publications that exist exclusively inside your political 'bubble'.

  • Re:And thus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by steelyeyedmissileman ( 1657583 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:39PM (#42768015)

    Methinks there's far more to it than you imply... Reaching the tech to do what you're describing here takes more than just resources; it takes some significant changes in our understanding of Physics.

    Let's look at your idea: you want something that can charge an electric car's battery in 10 seconds. Ok; a typical Prius battery [] is rated at about 4 kWh. That's roughly 15 million Joules of energy. To deliver that much energy in 10 s, you need a power supply that provides 1.5 million watts of power. At the battery voltage (~275 V), that's a current of over 5000 A, or only an order of magnitude less than a typical lightning strike [].

    Even assuming it's technically feasible to have a superconducting grid (unlikely without high, as in ambient, temperature superconductors), the cable from your power supply to the car battery probably won't be made of the same stuff if it's necessary for a person to manipulate it (eg. connect it to the car that is parked anywhere within a few 10s of centimeters from the supply). If copper wire is used, there is no standard size of wire made [] that can handle 5 kA for a period of 10 s, and even if you made one it would no longer qualify as "possible for a person to manipulate it".

    So: building your superconducting grid itself requires new physics that we don't have yet, not just adequate resources. Even with said grid, charging a battery in the amount of time you suggest deals with extremely high currents that are likely unsafe to use.

    I'm not saying your idea is impossible, just pointing out that there is much more to this problem than just a lack of resources.

  • Fossil fuel (Score:4, Informative)

    by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:43PM (#42768045)

    Actually, even plants don't do it efficiently enough to replace the stored energy in oil, gas and coal. At least, they couldn't replace it without horrendous ecological consequences. We can't "grow, baby, grow" our way out of our energy trap any more than we can "drill, baby, drill." We either go nuclear and hope for at least adequate battery technology, or we forget about industrial scale civilization and starve and die on a massive scale come 2100 or thereabouts.

    Uranium: The other fossil fuel
    Plutonium: The other renewable energy
    Breeder reactors: The other recycling program
    Central United States: The other location safe from tsunami

  • BECAUSE: Epic Fail (Score:4, Informative)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:14PM (#42768593)

    First the billions of taxpayer money spent on BS renewable energy companies then a failure to move nuclear power forward. Better to have hired a Finance expert. []

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982