U.S. EV Approach: A ‘Hodge-Podge’

The one thing that could really move the United States toward adopting cleaner modes of transportation? A “strong carbon policy,” participants at the MIT symposium “Electrification of the Transportation System” recently agreed. Alas, said the assembled experts, whose observations and conclusions have been gathered in a report now available online, that’s a “remote possibility,” leaving us with “a hodge-podge of state and federal regulation and targeted subsidies for favored technologies.”

The symposium, held last April, involved 68 participants and four panels, resulting in a broad range of ideas and opinions about electric vehicles and related matters. But, according to MIT, the report did arrive at a handful of guiding recommendations to policy makers – beyond the hopeless hope for a carbon policy that would be powerful enough to steer the market toward solutions.

Nissan Leaf, Portugal, prime minister

image via Nissan

Priority should be placed, the report said, on “crafting a coordinated approach to vehicle electrification.”  And research and development – into battery systems and grid integration, particularly – is a must, according to several participants. Batteries we hear a lot about, but grid integration gets less popular attention.

There, participants said, we need “more real-time monitoring and dynamic control down to the level of individual buildings, because patterns of usage could change significantly if the recharging of electric vehicles grows at a rapid pace.” Participants also generally agreed that it was necessary to “define the regulatory framework for the EV community.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.