CAMBRIDGE — President Barack Obama addressed state officials and a crowd at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday to encourage the nation on becoming a leader for the global economy in clean energy.

The speech, delivered at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, praised the school’s faculty members and students for their commitment to energy research and achieving new advancements in clean energy technologies. He spoke about his excitement after touring the school’s Energy Initiative program laboratories and the benefits that these new technologies can bring to the world.

“Windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; lightweight high-power batteries that aren’t built but are grown. That was neat stuff. Engineering viruses to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still,” said Obama.

He pointed out that every country has recognized that the world’s energy supplies are growing scarcer and “that’s why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy,” he said. “I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation. It’s that simple.”

Obama also promoted Ricovery Act Investments that are creating advancements in wind energy as well as creating jobs. He said the Act includes $80 billion to create thousands of jobs for Americans developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles, modernizing the electric grid and doubling the country’s capacity to generate renewable electricity.

Susan Hockfield, the president of MIT, said that having Obama speak about renewable energy at the university can motivate more students in getting involved in new energy technology and policy development.

“It’s enormously energizing. The Energy Initiative has become a real centerpiece at activities here at MIT. And having the president here to make a major statement about energy really confirms and amplifies the work that’s already been done on campus” said Hockfield.

MIT’s Energy Initiative program director Ernest Moniz said that energy research conducted around the country has helped the US be a frontrunner for leading the global economy in clean energy. However, he said there’s still much work to be done.

“United States still has, in my view, the world’s foremost science, technology and innovative system. In the other hand, we cannot be complacent. We can compete as long as we have the resources sustained and commitment from the highest levels, which the president demonstrated today” explained Moniz.

Obama has been the second president to visit MIT but was the only one who met with faculty members and received a tour of school laboratories. The previous presidential visit was made by Bill Clinton who delivered a Commencement address in 1998.

Video report by Melissa Unger

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