Friday, May 29, 2009

Electric Transportation

Well, all morning is lost. The autosave is blinking on and off. I've lost all my talk to you. But, fortunately, I have links. So I will make a list.

I heard Daniel Sperling speak yesterday at the Electrifying Transportation conference at NCSU. He quoted Thomas Jefferson that "a little revolution is not a bad thing" so I believe we have a compelling call to arms. He signed his book Two Billion Cars for me and I have come to give you the news.

1. We have 1 billion cars in the world today. We will likely have 2 billion cars in the world in 10 years. 75% of the people in the world do not have cars and want them.

2. Fossil fuels which propel the cars are killing the earth with CO2. CO2 is released when oil is burned. More cars driving overwhelms the ability of trees and the ocean to absorb the released CO2 which is the natural carbon cycle. The excess particles in the air reflect the radiating infrared rays back down to earth instead of out to space and speed up heating thus melting the polar ice, etc....

3. We have to change - cars, fuel and mobility to eliminate excess carbon. Cars and Fuel are easier to change than mobility. See number one. I feel like the Native Americans watching the Europeans coming to North America. There are just too many people who still want cars and why not? They want what we have.

4. We can do it, but the call to action is urgent...kinda like 1780.

5. Electric cars have been around since almost the beginning. Mrs. Ford drove electric and would not consider riding around on explosive gasoline.

6. We will not run out of oil. However, "the stone age did not end because we ran out of rocks" We will run out of cheap oil in about ten years, but then there is still the problem of all that carbon in the atmosphere.

8. This is an idea whose time has come. On résiste à l'invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l'invasion des idées.- victor hugo.

9. The difficulty in electric cars today is the storage of energy. Fossil fuels pack it in. Batteries can not quite do the same exactly at this time. The best batteries are lithium ion. Caution: we must not trade dependence on crude oil for dependence on lithium. 70% of the element lithium is in South America, and half of that is just in Bolivia. 20% is in China. Watch out Bolivia is all I can say.

10. If you buy an electric car today, it will run on nickel hydride batteries and that will not hurt the electric grid. Next year you can probably get one with lithium ion. If it is so cool that all your neighbors buy one, it may disrupt the power supply. Utility companies are adjusting. But where is all that electricity coming from? They have an idea that you should plug up where ever you park and after the car battery is completely charged, that energy converting device on the car can pump the energy into the grid and create electricity. That will take time to design. But it is here on the horizon.

11. Chelsea Sexton was there at the conference. She starred in "Who killed the Electric Car". Scary. She says we should call the militia out and go for it before the state of the world kills "your country with fire and sword". I mean, she really said let the first adopters have the cars, make them available and get thought the beta testing stage. We can't leave it out. We can't know the future. We have to do it now!! Sounds like Colonel Shelby. We all know this is coming. We have to get up and do something about it the way our Revolutionary fathers took action knowing a storm was coming.

12. She also noted all the hand wringing about the batteries and designing the grid and all would not stop consumers if the cars were available, "fun to drive, very cool to own and drivers got some emotional perk from driving them- privileges" These things drive marketing even more than climate change. She is so right.

13. NC is a hot bed for sustainable development and will be a leader in this change. The Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill --and Cary--) is one of the first cities of RMI's Project GetReady. Charlotte already has 70 alternative vehicles in its fleet. In Apex you can buy electric bicycles or buy a house and get an electric vehicle to go with it.

NCCAR, NC center for automotive research, in Northhampton county is going full steam and I enjoyed bantering with the CEO who is English all about my trip a few years ago at Christmas and my blog here. Well we are friends and allies now. I love England. I'd go back to visit again and again. As for Northamption, it is not yet on the NPS list, but they believe Cornwallis went though there!!!

I met another English guy marketing the bicycles from Apex. I warned him to find a way to overcome the preception that the bike was for drunk drivers caught who lost their license. I think you will have to market a helmet with it... like carrying a little dog in your purse gives you status...

14. The Chevy Volt was there. Alan Taub from GM spoke in the morning but I missed him. I'm not too disappointed. They should have put True Textiles fabric in there. The interior looked like four high-school coaches in color-blocked wind breakers were sitting in the seats. The car was smaller than I expected. ANd, yes i am prejudiced. Still it will come out and hopefully someone will buy it. I don't know if it is cool enough to spend 40,000 dollars on. It looks like a Dad's sedan. I had lunch with a prof. from the community college in Pittsboro. He mentioned the Aptera (coming out in October still with True Textile fabric I hope) before I did. That deserves a look.

15. Nissan was there and they are on target for an all electric car in 2010 built in Tennesee. It will require a hotwired 220 volt connection kind of like your dryer to be installed in your garage and inspected by your town. Every owner will have to have that or only drive the car every other day if they use 110 volt to get a full charge.

16. And now back to Pres. Jefferson : I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.

Save the planet.

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