Feb 20, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
We're still waiting to get a transcript of the President's speech this morning, where he picked up where he left off on Friday http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/calcars-news/message/302. So far only scattered comments (this holiday weekend) at the blog posting I put up Friday night http://www.hybridcars.com/blogs/power/pres-bush-endorses-phevs-amazing-breakthrough. We're glad the discussion continues to reach higher levels. We're aware of the distance between words and acts; many of the statements need corrections and comments, and we're looking to the day when CEOs of auto companies address the subject. We'll have more to say in the coming days....
Below is the text of the relevant sections of today's White House 7-page paper on the Advanced Energy Initiative. If you go to the URL, you'll be surprised, as we were, that to show that PHEVs already exist, the White House has taken the liberty of borrowing our photo of the world's first plug-in hybrid Prius -- the CalCars PRIUS+ (with old, almost-readable signs, our bumper sticker and GAS OPT plates), sitting in Ron Gremban's garage.
Changing the Way We Fuel Our Vehicles Accelerating Future Technologies
To significantly improve our future energy security, we must do more to reduce our future demand for oil and refined gasoline and diesel fuels. The President's Advanced Energy Initiative proposes significant new investments and policies in three promising areas: (1) advanced batteries; (2) cellulosic ethanol; and (3) hydrogen vehicles.
1. Advanced Batteries
Accelerated consumer adoption of hybrid-electric vehicles offers the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in the near-term. Further gains are possible with a "plug-in hybrid vehicle": a hybrid-electric vehicle that can run either on electricity from its own batteries or on gasoline. Unlike current hybrid vehicles, which can use only the gasoline engine to charge the on-board battery, a plug-in hybrid can be plugged into a common household electrical outlet to recharge its batteries. This allows a consumer to drive as an electric vehicle for the majority of driving that takes place within 40 miles of home. For longer trips, the gasoline engine kicks in, and the vehicle drives like a regular hybrid-electric vehicle. As a result, fuel efficiency of plug-in hybrids could exceed 80 or more miles per gallon, particularly when the hybrids are driven in urban areas. Plug-in hybrids would generally be charged at night, when electric utilities have spare generating capacity available.
Current battery technologies used in today's hybrid-electric vehicles store only enough energy to drive the vehicle in an electric-only mode at low speed for a very short range (1-2 miles). Simply adding additional batteries is not practical - according to some estimates, each hybrid-electric vehicle battery adds an additional $2,000 to $4,000 to the price of the hybrid-electric vehicle. To address these issues, advanced battery technologies such as "lithium-ion" batteries, similar to batteries used in cellular phones and other consumer electronics, can be adapted for vehicle use. These batteries, coupled with the development of advanced electric-drive technologies, will enable the commercialization of plug-in hybrids that can deliver the desired range.
To help bring down the cost of these highly-efficient vehicles, the President's 2007 Budget includes $31 million in new research funding to support advanced battery research, a 27% increase over 2006 levels. In addition to the gasoline savings they make possible, plug-in hybrids represent a practical step toward hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which have some of the same electric-drive and power-management technologies. Through the large-scale replacement of gasoline with electricity and hydrogen produced from clean coal, nuclear, and renewable technologies, we could dramatically reduce future oil use, balance-of-payment deficits, and emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
2. Cellulosic Ethanol
Transportation fuels derived from biomass can be produced either by the conversion of sugar or starch crops to ethanol, or by conversion of soybean or other plant oils to produce biodiesel. These clean-burning fuels are currently mixed with gasoline or diesel fuel in small amounts (up to 10% for ethanol and up to 20% for biodiesel) and used in conventional vehicles to help reduce petroleum demand.
The 3.4 billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline in 2004 amounted to about 2% by volume of all gasoline sold in the United States. Greater quantities of ethanol are expected to be used as a motor fuel in the future, in part due to two federal policies: an excise tax exemption of $0.51 per gallon of ethanol used as motor fuel, and a new requirement for at least 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be used in gasoline by 2012 (included in the recently passed Energy Policy Act).
Virtually all domestically produced ethanol currently comes from corn. However, corn and other starches and sugars are only a small fraction of biomass that can be used to make ethanol. A recent DOE/USDA study suggests that, with aggressive technology developments, biofuels could supply some 60 billion gallons per year - 30% of current U.S. gasoline consumption - in an environmentally responsible manner without affecting future food production.
To achieve greater use of "homegrown" renewable fuels, we will need advanced technologies that will allow competitively priced ethanol to be made from cellulosic biomass, such as agricultural and forestry residues, material in municipal solid waste, trees, and grasses. Advanced technology can break those cellulosic materials down into their component sugars and then ferment them to make fuel ethanol.
To help reduce the costs of producing these advanced biofuels, and ready these technologies for commercialization, the President's 2007 Budget increases DOE's biomass research funding by 65%, to a total of $150 million. The President's goal is to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with corn-based ethanol by 2012, enabling greater use of this alternative fuel to help reduce future U.S. oil consumption.