Electrification Roadmap Released by Electrification Coalition

The Electrification Roadmap: Revolutionizing Transportation and Achieving Energy Security  released by the Electrification Coalition, lays out a plan to transition the United States to electric vehicles by 2040.  The plan calling for the massive transformation to electric cars and electric light-duty vehicles is quite well written, informative and packed with timely information. 

The report details the dangers of oil dependence, explains the benefits of transportation electrification, describes the challenges facing electric cars – including battery technology and cost, infrastructure financing, regulatory requirements, electric power sector interface, and consumer acceptance issues – and provides specific and detailed policy proposals for overcoming those challenges.

For a comprehensive, cogent report offering up intelligent meaningful solutions to national security, environmental sustainability, energy security and prosperity challenges, read this document.

Here are a few excerpts from the report:


“To provide a public policy guide to transforming the U.S. light-duty ground transportation system from one that is oil-dependent to one powered almost entirely by electricity.”


“By 2040, for 75 percent of light-duty vehicle miles travelled (VMT) in the United States should be electric miles.”

Scale of the Challenge:

“To secure the advantages of electrification, it is not enough to deploy even millions of vehicles.  In fact, only penetration rates in excess of a hundred million electric vehicles will be sufficient.”

“The recommended policies seek to ensure not only the production of vast quantities of electric vehicles, but also their seamless integration into a complex electricity grid and transportation network.”

“This structure reflects the view that electrification entails a systemic shift encompassing multiple industries and policies that depart markedly from the incumbent transportation network.”

The Case for Electrification:

“The United States is dangerously exposed to a global oil market whose fundamental characteristics all but guarantee increasing volatility and instability.  Oil dependence weakens our national security, threatens our economy, and degrades the environment.  U.S. oil dependence stems largely from the transportation sector, which relies on petroleum for 94 percent of its delivered energy.”

“Electrification of transportation – powering our light-duty fleet with electricity – is the best solution available for reducing U.S. oil dependence.  Electricity is produced from a diverse range of fuels that are overwhelmingly domestic, and oil has virtually no role in power generation.  Today’s generation mix already offers environmental advantages versus conventional combustion engines for transportation, and the increased deployment of renewable generation will only improve this benefit.  Finally, the technology to power vehicles with electricity over ranges that meet most drivers needs is essentially available today.”

Why is there a need to develop public policy for transportation electrification?:

 “Ideally, the technology and deployment of electric vehicles would emerge through regular market mechanisms.  Events conclusively demonstrate that this path to electrification is unlikely, however.  Therefore, if the desired transformation is to occur anytime in the foreseeable future, focused and sustained public policy will be required.”

The problem with oil: 

“Heavy reliance on petroleum has created unsustainable risks to American economic and national security.  The economic risks are all too clear: so long as the cars and trucks that power our economy are dependent on a single fuel source, the majority of which is produced in hostile nations and unstable regions of the world and the price of which is increasingly volatile, our economy is at the mercy of events and actors largely beyond our control.”

“The global oil market is far removed from the free market ideal.”  The majority of global oil and gas reserves (78 to 90 percent) are held by nationally owned companies.

Why is electrification good?:

“Because it’s diverse and domestic, price stable, scalable, characterized by substantial spare capacity and with an extisting infrastructure, cheaper (one-fourth the fuel cost) and cleaner than gasoline.”

A closing argument:

 “While the plan outlined in this paper will be expensive, the alternatives are more so. But we cannot compare the cost of this program to current government expenditures on energy efficiency, vehicles, and advanced energy-related technology. We must, instead, compare it to the cost of doing nothing. Stated simply, the total cost of every proposal outlined in this paper is far less than the $600 billion of costs that our dependence on oil imposed on our economy in 2008 alone.”

The Electrification Coalition’s report does an excellent job of making the case for an ambitious goal for meaningful transformation to an electrified transportation system.  Although the report primarily focuses on private cars and doesn’t address issues like public transit nor some other  large systemic issues regarding  transportation,   I highly recommend reading the report, available for download after registering here.   Also see an excellent overview here

The 180+ page report is packed with great information; making a compelling case for transforming our transportation system from one based on combustion of fossil fuels to a clean and modern transportation system powered by electricity.  For those not inclined to read the full report, I’ll provide an outline of the four sections to provide an overview summary:


Related posts:

Oregon on Fast Track for Electric Cars

I came away impressed with the anticipation and enthusiasm for the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) after attending “EV Roadmap – Preparing Oregon for the Introduction of Electric Vehicles.”  

There were over 150 participants representing a variety of EV stakeholders on hand to learn about electric cars and participate in interactive breakout sessions to engage in conversations on transportation electrification and begin planning.  I facilitated and led a breakout session exploring regional connections.

The EV Roadmap event was designed around a set of briefings, discussions and exercises to foster decision-making, preparation of project plans, and an information-sharing agenda amongst the participants as they consider the arrival, deployment, and successful adoption of electric vehicle technologies in 2010 and beyond.  The goals of the program included planning for the arrival of next-generation electric vehicles and preparing for infrastructure siting.  There was good collaboration within and amongst interested cities in planning for the arrival of electric cars in the near future.

The morning session covered a variety of briefings and concluded with a panel discussion envisioning clean transportation in the year 2015 and beyond.  The afternoon sessions consisted of 10 breakout groups with specific exercises and discussion around assigned topics such as regional charging networks, public information planning, governance, regional economic development associated with EVs, after sales support, and readiness objectives / metrics.

My specific work group session explored placing electric vehicle charging stations connecting Oregon’s regional efforts throughout the entire Willamette Valley area and then extending northward along Interstate 5 up to Washington’s Puget Sound area with a charging corridor.

While preparing for the session to connect Oregon’s four distinct regions planned for the upcoming project (Portland Metropolitan area, Salem Capitol area, Corvallis-Albany region and the Eugene-Springfield region) I was interested in how much regular travel occurs between these four regions.  I was fortunate to obtain place-to-place commuter data from the year 2000 census, the graphical results are included in these slides:

View more documents from John Thornton.

I’ll provide additional observations and analyses in a subsequent post.

Stay tuned for more information from the initial EV Roadmap event that occurred on November 9th, as well as future activities.

Note:  While the EV Roadmap event was aligned along the scope of The EV Project and included a few of these project participations, the EV Roadmap was an independent event hosted by Portland General Electric and Portland State University.

A Systemic Approach to Jumpstart the Cleantech Economy

I enjoyed reading How to Jump-Start the Clean-Tech Economy in the November 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review not just because of the mention of electric cars and carbon neutral communities, but more importantly for suggesting a systemic approach as a necessity to transition from a fossil-fuel economy to a “clean-tech” economy powered by renewable energy.  Most efforts thus far have taken the approach to make clean technologies fit into traditional business models. 

New Models

Instead of focusing on technologies and forcing them to fit into traditional models, System to Jumpstart a Cleantech Economy the authors suggest there needs to be a balance of four components:  an enabling technological system; an innovative, customized business model; a market-adoption strategy that assures a foothold; and a favorable government policy.

 I like this framework because it takes more of a systems thinking approach, considering the interconnectedness and relationships amongst the elements of a system rather than just the parts themselves.
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