The Magic Electric Car Bullet

Oh, panacea, how do we love thee...?

The Magic Electric Car Bullet
An electric car prototype on display at a Beijing auto show in 2008. (Source: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/byd-electric-car-e6-crossover-mpv.php)
By | Posted October 10, 2010
Posted in: Environment Blog
Tags: , , , ,

Regardless of Who Killed the Electric Car, the idea jolts back to life perennially and buzzes (on battery power) across the news sphere.

Take Thomas Friedman’s recent post about China “doing moon shots.”  He’s referring to some of the country’s long term, high cost projects such as building multiple new airports, constructing a high-speed train network, acquiring 128 DNA sequencers, and jump-starting an electric car economy.  He focuses on this last objective, arguing in the op-ed that the US needs to follow China’s lead and pursue its own path to an electric car future.

Like Friedman, a group of policy researchers is also promoting aggressive fleet electrification in the US.  The Baker Energy Forum just released a study investigating policy approaches to reducing carbon emissions and oil imports.  Their key conclusion is that mandating a 30 percent electric vehicle fleet by 2050 would do more to accomplish both goals than stipulating that 40 percent of electric power come from renewable sources by 2040 (a so-called renewable portfolio standard, or RPS).

The headline of their press release blows this conclusion completely out of proportion:  “Electric Cars Hold Greater Promise for Reducing Emissions and Lowering US Oil Imports, Study Finds.”  Greater promise than what?   Carbon cap and trade?  Increased public transportation?

Nope, just their arbitrarily defined RPS, which – and THIS is the real news – is surprisingly horrible at abating carbon.  According to the executive summary, the RPS would only amount to a four percent reduction in emissions compared to having no renewable energy or carbon policy at all.  The electric vehicle scenario is only slightly better at seven percent.  In fact, the authors state on page 17 of the executive summary that “without a mandated carbon cap system, added electric cars would encourage more electricity generation with coal.”  In other words, in the long run, there may be little to no climate benefit.

As for oil…well, it isn’t exactly shocking that a policy focusing exclusively on power production wouldn’t have much of an impact on the liquid fuel world.

The electric car shouldn’t completely fizzle out again.  But it also shouldn’t be repackaged as a magic bullet.  Instead, the US should continue to allot grants for basic research and early deployment to a variety of promising technologies and work towards a policy that addresses the problems directly.

Namely, we should put prices on carbon and foreign oil and let the best new technologies win.

Posted in: Environment Blog

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  1. The important thing is to get off foreign oil and get our balance of trade under control.

    Coal powered electric plants are an important part of that; nuclear may be better as natural gas could be.

    Electric and natural gas transportation are important steps.

    I thought we had come to the conclusion that global warming caused by carbon emissions was a hoax.

    Bill Thompson, October 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm
  2. The electric car projects are just a scam to get a certain group of VC’s to control the lithium fields in Afghanistan! He who controls the electric cars controls the trillions of dollars of lithium revenues. It is just like oil all over again. The U.S. Department of Energy had one guy, who George Bush appointed running $25B worth of taxpayer money. He was working with 3 other guys in this small group who gave the money only to hooked n car companies who they could control the battery orders for and thus control the Lithium profits.

    Dmitry Medvedev Came to Silicon Valley on June 22, 2010 and met with some of the venture capital companies that helped lobby the leverage for the electric car companies that just got funded. Only the car companies got funded that would play in this scheme.

    Ener1 Battery Systems who got zillions of the dollars from DOE per the Loan Guarantee and ATVM Director Seward.

    Is controlled in part by Russian “business man” Boris Zingarevich.

    Who is best friends with the Russian Dmitry Medvedev, who arranged for all of Russia to extend current agreements signed with foreign automakers between 2005 and 2008 granting preferential duties on imported components for eight years in return for sourcing 30 percent of parts locally, according to the Industry and Trade Ministry. Once those arrangements expire, the carmakers would need to commit to buying 60 percent of components in Russia within six years to get more tax breaks.

    Dmitry also appears to own interest in lots of Lithium processing and mining company technology in Russia which is pretty close to Afghanistan.

    Afghanistan is: the “Saudi Arabia’ of lithium”. American geologists have discovered huge mineral deposits (Many $1 trillion of dollars worth) throughout Afghanistan, according to the New York Times. Lithium, gold, cobalt, copper, iron, among other valuable minerals are lying beneath what is already a war-torn country with little history with mining. Off and on over the decades, geologists—Soviet, Afghan, American—would investigate and chart some of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, only to put the work on hold as violent conflict erupted. Now, corruption, in-fighting between the central and district governments, foreign interests, and greater zeal from the Taliban might come into play to disrupt a potential economy evolving around these natural resources. With the Ministry of Mines, a Pentagon task force is now helping organize a way of handling the mineral development and bidding rights. How this unfolds socially, environmentally and politically should be interesting.

    The New York Times reports: The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion. The two most prevalent minerals are copper and iron. Niobium, used for making superconducting steel, has also been found.

    The effort to get that money for Ener1 was strong armed by Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar, one of the deans of Congress, and his junior colleague, Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

    Richard Lugar and Lachlan Seward co-managed the Chrysler Bail-out.

    Lachlan Seward was appointed by George Bush to run all of the tens of billions for the DOE ATVM and Loan Guarantee Programs. He & Matt Rogers gave most of the money away to their closely aligned interests and negated competing applicants. —

    Another place near Afghanistan that there is lot’s of Lithium is in Mongolia. Blum Capital has targeted the Lithium fields in Mongolia, said to be the second largest fields after Afghanistan in the region. Mongolia touches Russia so mining and equipment access could first take place there via Russia. China wants the Mongolian Lithium too so there is some two-way bidding that each country (Russia and China) do not know about. The owner of Blum Capital is Senator Feinsteins husband. She recently made him the Goodwill Ambassador to Mongolia.

    Blum’s wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has received scrutiny due to her husband’s government contracts and extensive business dealings with China and her past votes on trade issues with the country. Blum has denied any wrongdoing, however. Critics have argued that business contracts with the US government awarded to a company (Perini) controlled by Blum may raise a potential conflict-of-interest issue with the voting and policy activities of his wife. URS Corp, which Blum had a substantial stake in, bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002; EG&G subsequently won a $600m defense contract. In 2009 it was reported that Blum’s wife Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to provide $25 billion in taxpayer money to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a government agency that had recently awarded her husband’s real estate firm, CB Richard Ellis, what the Washington Times called “a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

    Pan American Lithium Corp is led by Andrew Brodkey, CEO, President and Director – who has 25 years in the mining industry as a mining engineer, lawyer and senior executive with a focus on corporate legal and business development activities at major mining companies with an emphasis on Latin America, including Magma Copper Company and BHP Copper Inc. Mr. Brodkey also created the International Mining & Metals Group of CB Richard Ellis, Inc (“CBRE”). He and Mr. Blum work together on Lithium deals

    ” In 2009 the University of California Board of Regents, of which Blum is a member, voted to increase student registration fees (roughly the Univ. of California equivalent of tuition) by 32%. Shortly thereafter, Blum Capital Partners purchased additional stock in ITT Tech, a for-profit educational institution. These events suggest a conflict of interest on Blum’s part. Also see: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2010/09/242044.php and http://www.floppingaces.net/2007/04/02/the-silence-on-the-feinstein-c/ and http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/21/senate-husbands-firm-cashes-in-on-crisis/

    Sanderson Hawkins, October 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm
  3. i likes,……..

    dede putra, December 11, 2010 at 10:22 am
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