Chu: Solar Power on Track For Cost Parity With Fossil Fuels

Energy Secretary Chu Even before the Solyndra bankruptcy, the U.S. clean energy industry was facing an uncertain future because of the tough economy and political gridlock in Washington, D.C.

In the second half of a one-on-one interview, anchor Thalia Assuras talks to Energy Secretary Secretary Chu about the Obama administration’s plan to improve the outlook for clean energy in America.

Asked about green job creation, Energy Secretary Chu reponded: "Consider what the energy markets are. Just the cost of energy. It's over a trillion dollars. We know that our buildings, both residential and commercial, are not the most energy efficient. We know, if you do things correctly, if you improve the air spaces, the ceiling, those investments can pay for themselves, if you do it right, within four or five years. And when you do that, it's cost-effective to retrofit your home to save energy, to save money, but in doing so, you've created jobs."

Chu believes that with the right energy policies, and good R&D programs, renewable energy prices will come down to parity with oil and gas. He said "Solar energy's price has come down by 50% in the last five or six years. It's going to come down by another 50%. And we think that there's a chance it could come down by 70%. At that point, you're talking about wholesale electricity, at utility scale, at 6 or 7 cents, levelized cost, per kilowatt hour. That's as much as you would have to spend for any fossil fuel plant without subsidy."

There are a lot of controversies about clean energy subsidies, and critics say renewables will never be able to stand on their own. "Oil and gas subsidies have started and been continued for about a hundred years." Said Chu. "I think we can pull the plug on renewable energy way before that, and so, you know, another 10 or 15 years, something like this, because of the driving need to get to this clean energy transition."

Chu concluded that America needs to stay competitive against Western Europe and China which is said in Washington to be winning the renewable energy race with huge government subsidies. "10 and 20 years from now, the world's going to need this (renewable energy, an improved grid and manufacturing). Are we going to be buying or selling? Well, we'd rather very much be selling."

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