The electric vehicle is the most viable means for replacing imported oil in the near term. By making liquid transportation fuel fungible with electricity, greater flexibility in fuel choices will be provided to many nations. Key enablers are required to realize its full potential. Provided these are accomplished, according to one study, this avenue offers the promise of the majority of the passenger vehicle fleet being served without any added capacity on the grid. Of all the alternatives for passenger fuel replacement, this may be the one with the smallest investment in capital by far, especially after advances in battery cost reduction are realized. The environmental benefit is primarily that tail pipe emissions, the most difficult to capture, are substantially eliminated.
RTEC held a symposium on this topic in 2009. This was followed by an active community effort under the umbrella of a Get Ready program. This program is led by Jeff Barghout, at Advanced Energy, an NC State based non-profit. The local effort includes a charging station infrastructure.
As a result of some of these actions, Nissan selected this area to be one of the first to receive a tranche of the all-electric vehicle, the Leaf. This is expected in December, and reservations are being taken for the vehicle.
RTEC has offered to be a sponsor of the EPRI Plug-in 2011 conference run by the Electric Power Research Institute. Raleigh was selected as the site after an exhaustive review, including a site visit.
RTEC is very supportive of projects that enable the Smart Grid. This includes social science research in assuring public acceptance of the best practices associated with the technology. RTEC also tracks advances in the key enabler: cheaper and better batteries. Several posts on this site address this area.