Posted by David Bercovich, Program Manager, Google.org
On another day of record-high gas prices, the Google.org/Brookings Institution conference on plug-in vehicles kicked off in Washington, DC today. Electrifying transportation impacts our economy, national security, and environment, and conference sessions overflowed with interested attendees. The lively afternoon session highlighted the broad coalition supporting plug-ins and demonstrated that the technology we need to electrify transportation is here today.
Jim Woolsey passionately argued that our dependence on oil is a national security emergency and that countries like Japan and Brazil have demonstrated the potential to overhaul an automotive fleet in a short period of time. Shai Agassi described Project Better Place and their plans to rapidly deploy electric vehicles in Israel.
Several speakers, including Mark Duvall from EPRI, referenced the landmark EPRI / NRDC study on the impact of significant deployment of plug-in hybrids, including the finding that our current electric grid could power 73% of our vehicles if we charged them at night. Peter Darbee from PG&E talked about how plug-in vehicles could work with smart electricity meters to increase the efficiency of the grid.
Panelsists also highlighted consumer demand for plug-ins. For example, Chelsea Sexton pointed out the need to anticipate (and invest in) rapid product improvement, reminding participants that we didn’t know we wanted portable video MP3 players to replace our Walkmans until devices like the iPod emerged.
You can check out the webcast of tonight’s session with Senator Alexander, Congressman Dingell, and Fred Smith from FedEx starting around 7pm EDT.