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Steven Chu Energy Secretary

Steven Chu Energy Secretary

Highlights of Secretary of the US Department of Energy, Steven Chu's, keynote presentation at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit 2012.

Chu: “This is Bloomberg Energy Finance’s assessment from the first quarter of 2012 of what the costs of energy are. Starting at the lowest cost with natural gas which is at 5.5 cents per kWh, coal fired plants are more expensive, landfill gas is actually cheaper. But I want to point out something: if you look at onshore wind, if you look at photovoltaics, they have come down quite a bit. Onshore wind is now less expensive than a new coal fired power plant, and it’s learning curve and ability to decrease in price will continue, will continue to come down in this next decade.

What about photovoltaics? Well about ten years ago they were about four times the price. This is what’s called a learning curve. That is to say to you make a certain amount of photovoltaics and you have a certain price. You double the production and the price goes down by a certain percentage, you double it again and it goes down by a certain percentage. Photovoltaics have gone from $20 a watt to a 2015 prediction that it could get down to $1 a watt. That prediction turned out to be not true, it’s now below a dollar a watt for a solar module at the end of 2011, so the progress has been fantastic.

As we go forward, we really need a second industrial revolution. A revolution that gives the developed and developing worlds the energy it needs, but a clean form of energy. We’re going to get this through discovery, invention and innovation and this is going to be very important for our national prosperity as well as our posterity. And to quote Alfred Nobel: this work with confer the greatest benefit on mankind.”