From an interview with Stanford.edu:
As energy secretary, you encouraged better collaboration between science and technology and government to tackle the biggest problems of the day. What’s the No. 1 problem on your list?
Climate change. We’re heading into an era where if we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to be fundamentally in really deep trouble. We’re already in trouble. So we have to transition to better solutions.
We’re not too far away from producing a lot of renewable energy, and doing it cheaply. Solar power is going to become cheaper and cheaper – costs have plummeted three-fold in six years, partly because of the dropping price of modules and electronics. Wind energy is within 15 percent of the cost of new natural gas energy, and the DOE predicts that that cost will cross over within one or two decades, so we need to start to plan the transition system that can conduct more wind energy.
But right now, we’re not prepared. As technology continues to race forward – battery technology has advanced faster in the past five years than what I’ve seen in the [previous] 15 years – we need policy to guide and anticipate development. It takes decades to change things like infrastructure, and so people have to think about that today. Otherwise, progress slows down, and we emit more carbon and get into more trouble environmentally.