Dependable Erection

Monday, June 23, 2008

It beats going to Mars

McCain calls for $300 million prize for car battery
Republican John McCain said on Monday if elected president he would challenge American experts to develop a futuristic battery to power cars and win a $300 million prize.

. . .

"Whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office, or my signature on an act of Congress, we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil," McCain told a town hall meeting in Fresno, in rural central California.

. . .

McCain said he would issue a Clean Car Challenge to U.S. automakers.

"For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a $5,000 dollar tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit," he said.

And he offered a big reward for whoever comes up with a technological breakthrough: "A $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

I have absolutely no confidence that McCain can bring this proposal to reality, any more so than did George Bush with his Mars trip, yet this is still an important dialog to have. Let's see where Obama goes next.

And $300 million is actually, you know, real money.

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  • I love it when politicians try to do engineering.

    Electric vehicles are not "zero emissions". The emissions are transferred from the individual private vehicle to the centralized utility which is often burning coal. Imagine how much more generating capacity we'd have to build in order to support even a small fraction of our gasoline/diesel-based transportation energy needs. Unless, of course, you allow people to charge their cars at night ONLY.

    Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars are not zero emissions either. You either have to get hydrogen from the fossil fuel methane or use huge amounts of electricity to get it from water.

    Repeat after me: hydrogen and batteries are ways to STORE energy. They are not SOURCES of energy.

    By Blogger An Engineer, at 3:46 PM  

  • Agreed.

    Politicians doing engineering are as entertaining as engineers doing politics.

    Or economics.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:53 PM  

  • Yeah, laugh it up. Brownout

    By as early as next year our demand for electricity will exceed reliable supply in New England, Texas and the West and, by 2011, in New York and the mid-Atlantic region. A failure of a power plant, or a summer-afternoon surge in the load, could make for a blackout or brownout. "There really isn't any excess in the system," says Rick P. Sergel, chief executive at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

    We're going to plug these electric cars in where, exactly?

    What's even more entertaining is (pseudo) scientists doing politics.

    Every one of your arguments has fallen flat. OK Mr. Economics expert, I'm still waiting for you to compare the cost of Shoreham, even with the cost overruns, with the cost of 30 years of generating that electricity using coal. Don't neglect the strip mining in your analysis. Nor the coal worker fatalities. Nor the cost of people breathing the crap that the coal-fired plants put out.

    By Blogger An Engineer, at 12:53 PM  

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