Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rolling into the Rotunda

Congressional Briefing on Flexible Fuel Plug-in Hybrids
March 29, 2006
Washington, DC []

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites anyone interested to attend a Congressional briefing April 4, 2006 (from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at 2318 Rayburn House Office Building) on the role of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in reducing dependence on foreign oil, decreasing GHG and transportation emissions, revitalizing local economies, and lowering fuel costs.

The National Plug-in Partner Campaign, in which EESI is a founding member, will help demonstrate to automobile manufacturers that a market for flexible-fuel Plug-in Hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) exists today.

The national campaign, launched last January, has support from nearly 200 state and local governments, utilities, national security, environmental and public interest groups. The transportation sector, which is 98 percent dependent on petroleum, accounts for two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption, making it the single largest contributor to America's foreign oil dependence.

A shift to manufacturing flexible-fuel PHEVs could be central to revitalization of the American auto industry by positioning domestic automakers as leaders in this emerging technology. Federal and state support of this technology can accelerate commercial deployment.

The FY 2007 budget request for the Department of Energy includes $6.17 million for advanced battery development. The New York State budget request calls for a $10 million competitive grant program to support research and production facilities for flexible-fuel hybrids and PHEVs."

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Romming on Earth (and Sky)

Here is an interview with Joe Romm that recently appeared on the the popular radio show Earth and Sky

Joseph Romm is author of "The Car and Fuel of the Future," a 2004 report to the National Commission on Energy Policy.

Dr. Romm is an original plug in partner and he participated in the Jan 24th press conference.

Salazar: Dr. Romm, thank you for speaking with me today. What is the car of the future?

Romm: I think we have two major, related problems that are going to drive transportation in the future.

The first is oil. We're increasingly dependent on imported oil from dangerous regions of the world. And I expect that the price of oil and gas will, by and large, keep going up, with some bumps, over the next 10 to 20 years.

And, perhaps more importantly, are the greenhouse gases that we keep pouring into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels like oil. These greenhouse gases are starting to cause rather serious impacts in terms of melting the ice caps and and raising sea levels and making hurricanes more intense and the like.

So I think that, over the next 10 years, it's going to become increasingly clear that we have to dramatically reduce our oil consumption. In the United States, about 2/3 of all oil goes to transportation, in the cars that we drive and the planes that we ride in, virtually all of transportation is dependent on oil and very few other forms of energy are used for transportation.


What I've argued in my book, The Hype about Hydrogen, and in a recent Scientific American article, is that the next stage is hybrid cars that can be plugged into the electric grid.


Once you've got a battery and an electric motor onboard your car, the next obvious thing to do is to put in a larger battery, which can actually be plugged into the electric grid, so that you can replace oil with electricity. And so that's the car of the future.

I think, ideally, that plug-in hybrid, as it is called, would also be designed to run on alternative liquid fuels, particularly biofuels like ethanol, so that you could also replace gasoline with the liquid fuel that you use with ethanol.

And just to be clear, the plug-in hybrid would still have a gasoline engine in it. This would be a car that would run all-electric, twenty or thirty miles, before reverting to being a regular gasoline-electric hybrid.

The point is that most people don't travel very far everyday. You drive to work. You park at work for eight hours, you drive home, you park at home for eight to ten hours. So your car is sitting around most of the time, and it could easily be charged up, so that if you just have enough batteries on board to give yourself a small all-electric range, you might use very little gasoline, and you just use a gasoline engine for the time when you have long trips or don't have the time to do refueling.

So it's kind of the best of all possible worlds in terms of combining electricity, which can be a very clean source of transportation, and it's much cheaper than gasoline, but you keep the benefits of the gasoline engine, which is speed of refueling and long range.

So that is why I think that the plug-in hybrid is the car of the future, as I've called it."


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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Obama embraces PHEVs

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivered a major speech on energy independence yesterday. The setting was a meeting of the National Governors Association. In his plan, he calls for all government cars to be plug-ins.

The Grist Magazine blog has posted the complete speech here.

Barack Obama on Energy Independence
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Governor's Ethanol Coalition
Washington, DC
Feb. 28, 2006

In this year's State of the Union address, President Bush told us that it was time to get serious about America's addiction to foreign oil. The next day, we found out that his idea didn't sit too well with the Saudi Royal Family.

A few hours later, Energy Secretary Bodman backtracked and assured the world that even though the President said he planned to reduce the amount of oil we import from the Middle East, he actually didn't mean that literally.


The federal government can help in two ways here. First, we can reduce the risk of investing. We already do this in a number of ways by funding projects critical to our national security. Energy independence should be no different.

By developing an Energy Technology Program at the Defense Department, we can provide loan guarantees and venture capital to those with the best plans to develop and sell biofuels on a commercial market. The Defense Department will also hold a competition where private corporations get funding to see who can build the best new alternative-fuel plant. The Department can then use these new technologies to improve the energy security of our own military.

Once we take the risk out of investing, the second thing the government can do is to let the private sector know that there will always be a market for renewable fuels. We can do this in a few ways.

First, we should ramp up the renewable fuel standard and create an alternative diesel standard in this country so that by 2025, 65 billion gallons of alternative fuels per year will be blended into the petroleum supply.

Second, Washington should lead the way on energy independency by making sure that every single automobile the government purchases is a flexible-fuel vehicle - starting today. When it becomes possible in the coming years, we should make sure that every government car is a plug-in hybrid as well.

Third, I'm supporting legislation that would make sure every single new car in America is a flexible-fuel vehicle within a decade. Currently it costs manufacturers just $100 to add these tanks to each car. But we can do them one better. If they install flexible-fuel tanks in their cars before the decade's up, the government should provide them a $100 tax credit to do it - so there's no excuse for delay.


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