On that last front, Chu has spearheaded many clean energy initiatives at the Berkeley Lab, many of which have focused on using non-food plants to convert sunlight into liquid fuel. One of these initiatives, known as Helios, is expected to begin construction in 2010. Chu's Nobel Prize came in 1997 for his contributions to “laser cooling,” a method of trapping gaseous atoms with laser light. This technique makes it easier to study atoms.
Chu is highly respected in physics circles, but according to CNN, some Democrats are concerned at his lack of political experience.
If nominated and confirmed, Chu will be the first Chinese-American to hold this office.
Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
The Obama administration has created a new role in response to what it sees as a challenge in coordinating all of the federal agencies that have a hand in energy policy. These include the Transportation Department, which mandates fuel economy standards; the Interior Department, which grants permits for oil and gas drilling on federal land; the EPA, which regulates air quality; the Department of Commerce, which develops infrastructure to promote economic growth and sustainable development; and the Department of Energy.
This role is probably an outgrowth of a February 2008 proposal by the Center for American Progress, which called for a White House-level advisor to coordinate energy-related federal agencies as well as "outreach with states, localities, and the private sector, and U.S. leadership and partnership in international efforts to reduce global emissions." The Center for American Progress was founded by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta, who also co-chairs Obama's transition team.