In a new Wired profile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu emerges as one of the most important players in the global push for renewable energy. Daniel Roth describes how Chu's collaboration with the private sector has transformed the Department of Energy from a forgotten nuke depository to an innovative source of climate change policy. This innovation hinges on Chu's approach to China:

Chu is succeeding because of his indefatigable pragmatism, a trait that pleases businesspeople as much as it sometimes irks environmentalists. And he's succeeding because he has won respect from the Chinese -- both because of his Nobel Prize and because of his ethnic roots. "Most of China's leaders are engineers and scientists, so when they see someone with the same background, they can talk," says Peggy Liu, a former venture capitalist based in Shanghai and now chair of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy. "And Chu is Chinese, so there is some kinship. In China, if you can say that your ancestor came from the same province, you are family."