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.