Imagine my surprise, by happenstance, to find Former President Bill Clinton making a campaign stop in my small town. I live on the Oregon coast. Rugged, rural and even to get out here is no trivial travel matter. So, the prospect of seeing a former President speak in person, in an area I knew didn't have the population to draw thousands of people, I flew out the door and stood in the damp foggy weather. Oops, I forgot my coat.
So, I won't bother you with the speech on the Presidential campaign but Bill went into some detail on a couple of issues with alternative energy that really caught my ear.
That is batteries and transmission lines. Right now there are experimental plug-in cars which can get 105 mpg and the roadblock in getting them into mass production is batteries. Lithium Ion Batteries to be exact.
We also have massive unharnessed wind power in both Eastern Oregon and Texas and guess what the issue is with that? No transmission lines to move that power from the geographical wind zones to population areas.
Now that's some pretty amazing details for a stump speech on some grueling but assuredly gorgeous road trip Bill Clinton was engaged in. Instead of the usual platitudes and posturing, we actually heard some real, on the ground, specifics on what is causing a couple of critical technologies not being deployed, the roadblocks to getting those technologies into mass production as fast as possible, and policy generated to solve these specific roadblocks in alternative energy.
The first was lithium ion batteries for plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Here are some of the current problems which were also presented before a Senate committee hearing. This is actually a naysayer commentary. One thing I believe is strongly needed by our Congress as well as Administrative branch is to engage, hire many more objective Scientists and Engineers to evaluate and monitor R&D projects. So often, special interests cloud the feasibility on emerging technologies through their own experts and conflicting business agendas. In fact open source appears to be moving into these areas, which if government funded, would be quite a leveler in this problem of conflicting expert opinion.
One thing I noticed is Hillary took the time to verify the facts about this topic versus just announce a particular technology should be invested in (let's talk hydrogen).
Bill Clinton asked why is it the United States could go to the moon in a matter of years yet somehow solving the lithium ion battery technical and manufacturing problems are now insurmountable?
Clinton talked about these specifics as technologies Hillary would create federal funding for. It has been known for some time the US power grid is antiquated. Like the 1930's, the United States must reinvest in infrastructure deployment, critical manufacturing and emerging technologies.
Now ya all remember, this is a small rural town by the raging sea where I'm hearing about this.
Bill also rattled off economic statistics like baseball scores, which was a lovely change from pundit banter. President Clinton missed the obvious behind him in his scenic backdrop, Oregon has some of the most powerful waves, a source of wave energy, in the United States.
But while this election insanity goes on, I found it most interesting that Hillary and Bill had the time to even evaluate such specifics and bring them up on the campaign trail. Especially interesting in a small rural town by the raging coastal sea.
If only the rest of us would do the same.
I found a great blog, The Energy Blog, which is covering experimental technologies.