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December 03, 2010

American Competitiveness - Stephen Chu and Others Sound the Alarm

Stephen Chu (energy secretary) sounded an alarm with Is the Energy Race our new “Sputnik” Moment? (30 page presentation)

For over a century, America has led the world in innovation.
Today, that leadership is at risk.

In the last 15 years, Chu said, China has gone from 15th place to 5th in international patents and from 14th place to 2nd place in published research articles. Of fifty or so nuclear reactors under construction around the world, thirty are in China. China just surpassed the U.S. with the world's fastest supercomputer, has a 220-mph rail line that is the fastest in the world, and has broken ground on a rail network almost four times larger than the next most developed rail country, France

China has installed the highest voltage and capacity, lowest loss HVDC (800kV) and HVAC (1,000 kV) lines, and plans an integrated HVDC/HVAC backbone.
• Broken ground on 30 nuclear reactors out of ~ 50 world-wide.

Recently China is raising its 2020 nuclear generation target to about 114 GWe. This would be more than the United States unless the united states builds (or uprates) about 14 GWe of new nuclear power.

There are many more figures from a report-
Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 (2010) a report on American Competitiveness by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

Thirty years ago, ten percent of California’s general fund went to higher education and three percent to prisons. Today, nearly eleven percent goes to prisons and eight percent to higher education.

China is now second in the world in its publication of biomedical research articles, having recently surpassed Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Spain.

The United States now ranks 22nd among the world’s nations in the density of broadband Internet penetration and 72nd in the density of mobile telephony subscriptions.

In 2009, 51 percent of United States patents were awarded to non-United States companies.

The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education.

Of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 suppliers, 5,000 are in China.

There are sixteen energy companies in the world with larger reserves than the largest United States company.



China has now replaced the United States as the world’s number one high-technology exporter.

In 1998 China produced about 20,000 research articles, but by 2006 the output had reached 83,000 … overtaking Japan, Germany and the U.K.

Eight of the ten global companies with the largest R&D budgets have established R&D facilities in China, India or both.

During a recent period during which two high-rise buildings were constructed in Los Angeles, over 5,000 were built in Shanghai.

Chu is calling for a resurgence in Research and Development

What America’s innovation could produce:
• Affordable electric vehicle batteries with 500-mile range.
• Transformative approaches to lowering the cost of bio-fuels.
• Abundant, domestic fuel produced directly from the sun.
• Solar PV energy at 1/4th the fully installed cost.
• Dramatically reduce carbon capture and storage (CCS) costs
• Design by computer simulation that will eliminate costly development cycles.

Fuels from Sunlight Hub aims to develop and demonstrate a manufacturable solar-fuels generator that will produce fuel from the sun 10 times more efficiently than current crops. If successful, this Energy Innovation Hub would set the stage
for a direct solar fuels industry.

There are difference between the Sputnik event of 1957 and today’s “Sputnik Challenge”:
1. While we are competing for leadership in energy innovation, we have much to gain by cooperating with China, India and other countries.
2. In the next two decades, China will build new infrastructure equivalent to the entire U.S. 80% of India’s infrastructure in 2030 does not exist today.
3. These countries present us with new markets, a laboratory for innovation.


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