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Summary:

Tom Friedman’s column in this Sunday’s New York Times advocates a meeting of the minds between two of the green energy revolution’s most well-known entrepreneurial leaders: Shai Agassi and T. Boone Pickens. As Earth2Tech readers likely know through our endless coverage of these two innovators, Agassi […]

Tom Friedman’s column in this Sunday’s New York Times advocates a meeting of the minds between two of the green energy revolution’s most well-known entrepreneurial leaders: Shai Agassi and T. Boone Pickens. As Earth2Tech readers likely know through our endless coverage of these two innovators, Agassi is leading the electric vehicle infrastructure startup Project Better Place and Pickens is the former oil billionaire turned wind wildcatter who has launched his Pickens Plan to help get the United States off its oil addiction.

No doubt, as Agassi writes on his blog this weekend, the two would have more than enough to chew on over breakfast. Agassi says: “I never met him [Pickens], but I am now very intrigued by the thought of seeing what happens when the two of us get together and think.” So are we.

But while the two share the same goals of getting countries to become less reliant on foreign oil — Pickens focusing on the United States, and Agassi starting first with Israel and Denmark — we would suspect they would have a few major points of contention. Namely, Pickens’s call for natural gas vehicles to provide a third of the U.S. transportation is somewhat at odds with Agassi’s attempts to build the electrification of the world’s transportation. Though there is room for more than one form of alternative cleaner transportation, the massive investment needed to build out the natural gas infrastructure could draw investment away from efforts to encourage the proliferation of electric vehicles.

And since we think electric vehicles are a far better long term alternative transportation plan, here’s what we would want from a sit down between Agassi and Pickens: Agassi, can you convince Pickens that electric vehicles are a better plan? We laud Pickens’s work on the world’s largest wind farm and investment into clean-generated electricity. And I think we can all agree that kicking the foreign oil habit is the end game. But let’s build out an infrastructure that is already in place — the power grid — to drive our vehicles. Agassi would probably put it a lot more eloquently than that, and perhaps, with all his successes thus far, could really drive home the point.

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Agassi- the name is a celebrity name itself. On a serious note, electricity also needs to be generated. Generation of electricity is not the cleanest atleast in many parts of the world. Thermal pwoer plants are the still predominant .

    We need much cleaner alternative like hydrogen powered vehicles etc.

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  2. Neither guy has PHEVs in their plans. Add Felix Kramer or James Woolsey to their party, and maybe you’d have something.

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  3. “And I think we can all agree that kicking the foreign oil habit is the end game.”

    No, I don’t think we can all agree on that! The end game? You’re kidding right? There’s no such thing, but I would say that the short term goal should be kicking the carbon habit. Foreign oil, yes but how about all oil, natural gas, and coal too. There is plenty of clean renewable energy to supply all of us, without the need for non-renewable energy sources. Before we even got half way to replacing 100% of our non renewable energy in this country renewables would have become so cheaper.
    I applaud the idea of Pickens wanting us off oil but I think natural gas vehicles are a stupid idea. Electric makes much more sense. They get cleaner over time as the grid becomes more renewable. And if mass production of electrics really started in earnest I believe economies of scale would really push the tech up and the cost down.
    Really, it’s all about getting production up. Conventional PV will reach grid parity in 10 years based on historical trends, and probably much sooner with thin film.

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  4. [...] Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech has commented on an article in Sunday’s NY Times looking at the differences in two plans for getting off the addiction to oil. We think we have a better plan than either of them, inspired in part by both of them. Let’s look at the two plans first… [...]

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  5. connie cormier Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    After reading the Friedman’s article in sunday’s ny times I became very interested!! Is there any information available about investing??

    Congrats!! We need more Agassi’s out there working with Obama!!

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  6. PHEVs, natural gas vehicles, flex fuel vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, etc. are all unfortunately inadequate solutions comparative to the electric vehicle. Agassi has come up with an elegant business model that enables work-around solutions to the “range” problem, “cost” problem, infrastructure issues, and other subtle barriers that previously inhibited the electric vehicle.

    Everyone needs to understand Agassi’s business model. It can be deployed in mass quantity in most developed nations within the decade.

    Clean electricity is emerging. If you look at the venture capital over the past decade that has poored into wind development you will see the trend. Picken’s understands the potential for clean electricity is huge in the U.S. In the meantime, any carbon pricing schemes emerging post U.S. elections might better enable carbon capture and storage although I see coal-fired generation losing in the medium to long term.

    Even with dirty electricity, a study in Denmark showed by switching to EVs they would reduce overall emissions by approximately half in the transportation sector (keep in mind that one fifth of their electricity is wind generation).

    Get together Pickens and Agassi. Get on the same page. Together, the two of you could be the catalysts yielding EVs and clean electricity in order to meet the recent “Gore challenge”.

    I agree with Connie (above) and hope that Obama adapts his energy platform to include Agassi’s vision, and component’s of Picken’s plan.

    Best,

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  7. “We need much cleaner alternative like hydrogen powered vehicles etc.”

    And the hydrogen will come from where?

    Hydrogen does not exist by itself in nature; it must be ‘produced’ from substances that contain it.
    You can get it from fossil fuels – which we are trying to stop using – or from splitting water.
    The water option requires alot of electricity!

    Therefore hydrogen is an energy storage medium just like a battery.

    If you need electricity anyway, hydrogen is only cleaner if it requires less per mile than a battery electric vehicle.

    This is not the case.

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