Monday, October 29, 2007

Plug it

Electric cars are certainly an option that should be explored to reduce emissions and to potentially reduce our dependence on politically sensitive and non-renewable energy sources.

One barrier that still has to be addressed and that is rarely accounted for is how and where the electricity is generated.

The electric power grid in America is running at or near it's capacity, is thought to be in a state of disrepair and is not particularly efficient as it relates to transmission across distances. Furthermore, it relies heavily on power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas to generate power. I don't think power plants are currently as clean as modern automobiles either.
As such, a move to fully-electric cars, assuming the technology can overcome its own inherent drawbacks, at this point will just move the air quality issues and energy dependence upstream.

A viable plan to introduce fully-electric automobiles on a large scale must also include a plan to develop new or existing power-generation processes like solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear that are based on sustainability and independence from foreign sources.

Otherwise, like hybrids, it will be mostly for show.

Shai Agassi, a Silicon Valley technologist who was in competition to become chief executive of SAP, one of the world’s largest software companies, has re-emerged with a grand plan to reinvent the world’s automobile industry around battery-powered all-electric cars.

Others are developing green cars, like the Tesla and Chevrolet Volt. However, Mr. Agassi is not planning to make cars, but instead wants to deploy an infrastructure of battery-charging stations in the United States, Europe and the developing world.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Agassi said tests of prototype vehicles would start in early 2008 and the company would begin commercial sales and service in two years. He said he was working to obtain commitments from both governments and carmakers.

1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

You might not stress the grid that much; you could charge 'em at night, and most likely would even without controls. So stations that are idling at night would simply be brought up to full power.

In the short run, that would spike natural gas prices (gas fired plants come up quickest), and in the long run, you'd get more coal pollution (coal is the cheapest). In both cases, you'd get an inferior car.