Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Plug-Ins Need a Laboratory; Hawaii Would Do Nicely

Get yourself a copy of today’s Wall Street Journal and go to page D2 for an update on progress in developing plug-in cars – the ones with batteries you charge overnight by plugging in to your carport's outlet.

Writer Joseph White comments on the challenges facing plug-in technology but includes enough about California’s drive for cleaner air to be hopeful about the coming electric car revolution. He concludes his piece:

“Eliminating entirely the contribution cars make to the load of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere requires far more than forcing the installation of traps and filters and fuel injectors. It requires a ground-up transformation of the concept of personal mobility, as well as substantial investments in fueling infrastructure and, perhaps, power generation that go well beyond America’s big auto makers.”

And that’s where Hawaii can play a role. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and plug-ins could amount to a “dream green team” – a marriage of renewable pollution-free electricity generation with pollution-free electric cars. Talk about a revolution; it would be running your car with ocean power, a heady concept.

You Can’t Drive to this Island

Elsewhere in his commentary, White notes “...Toyota decided to go with the flow (toward plug-ins), announcing plans to field a test of plug-in hybrids by 2010 for tightly controlled use in fleets."

An island in the Hawaiian chain might well be the perfect “tightly controlled” test location for electric vehicles. We’ve written here at Hawaii Energy Options that one island in particular – Lanai – has tremendous potential for such a test.

We’d be thinking along those lines if we were the island's owner, but we’re not, so we’re just speculating here. But in light of the owner’s renewable energy plans for Lanai, speculation at the right time and place can't hurt.

And who knows? In addition to being an island owner with big dreams, maybe Mr. Murdock is a ‘net surfer, too.

1 comment:

bjelkeman said...

Hawaii should consider hopping over to California and talk to Project Better Place (Business Week). They are doing electric car infrastructure in Israel and maybe Denmark. Why not Hawaii? The Movement Design Bureau also has some interesting analysis.