The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the first talk of its 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series yesterday, featuring Prof Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1997 and former US Secretary of Energy. The event was well received by students, faculty members and guests from HKUST.
Speaking on “Energy, Climate Change and the Transition to a Sustainable World”, Prof Chu warned of the impact of climate change on our generations to come. Backing up with statistics and lively examples, he talked about how renewable energy could provide sufficient energy to a greater population. In order to make the most out of it, Prof Chu noted, a very flexible transmission and distribution system will be required, and that adaptation costs will go down as more parts of the world get used to renewable energy. “Climate of the earth is indeed changing, and we have very compelling evidence that said it is largely caused by greenhouse gases by humans,” Prof Chu said as he reinstated the need for cleaner energy.
An established physicist and a champion in clean energy, Prof Chu co-won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for a method to cool and trap atoms along with his colleagues Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Philips. He joined US President Barack Obama’s administration as the nation’s Secretary of Energy in 2009, during his tenure he oversaw a tenfold increase in solar energy use and an overall doubling in the use of renewable energy, leading to a cut in fossil fuel consumption.
Prof Chu had recruited outstanding scientists and engineers into the Department of Energy, he also began several initiatives including ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), the Energy Innovation Hubs and the U.S. – China Clean Energy Research Centers (CERC). After leaving the public office in 2013, Prof Chu returned to Stanford University and lead researchers in developing accurate, informative and broadly applicable tools for biophysics and biomedicine.
Prof Chu is among five other Nobel Prize winners, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and key financial policy shapers invited to speak for the Series that marks HKUST’s 25th anniversary. Other confirmed speakers include Wang Shi, Founder and Chairman of leading property developer China Vanke, winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011 Prof Dan Shechtman, and Dr Raghuram Govind Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Electric, will be the next speaker for the Series, and he will talk about the new energy world on September 23, 2015. More talks by other distinguished speakers are also being lined up.