Recalling the Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite probe which initiated the Space Race, a top U.S. official has cited China's recent emergence as a leader in green tech innovation as a "Sputnik moment" for the United States.
In a speech delivered Monday, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu called upon the U.S to ramp up its energy innovation efforts in order to remain competitive with China.
"America, I am optimistic, will wake up and see the opportunity. And when it does, it still has the greatest innovation machine in the world," Chu said.
Research and development in America's leading innovation sectors including computers, defense and medicine have surpassed much of the world, Chu noted. But investment in energy innovation and IP has lagged significantly.
One such energy sector that could benefit from clean tech investment is the nuclear power industry. The U.S. has begun work on two nuclear reactors, yet China has already started construction on 30, according to the Chicago Independent Press. However, many are hoping California, with its range of solar, wind and other renewable energy markets, will be able to spearhead a U.S. green tech revolution.
"America still has the opportunity to lead in a world that will need, essentially, a new industrial revolution to give us the energy we want inexpensively but carbon-free," the Nobel laureate added.