[Oeva-list] Conference Report from Meeting of the Minds

Tim Kutscha tim_kutscha at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 31 22:21:02 PDT 2008


Hi OEVA folks,

I spent the last two days attending the Meeting of the Minds conference at the Portland Art Museum and wanted to share with you all the notes I took from the meetings.  

I also had a chance to talk with Rick Durst about the new EV charging stations going up around town.  If you see a charging station, please use it so people can see the value of the stations.

Let me know if you have comments or questions about the notes below.  They are quite lengthly.

Cheers,
Tim Kutscha
OEVA Chair
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Conference Notes from Meeting of the Minds 2008
http://www.meetingoftheminds.org July 30-31 Portland Art Museum

This is just a list of factoids I gleaned from the conference, mostly in chronological order:

Opening speaker from Toyota: Irv Miller
2009 doing fleet tests of PHEVs
2010 will have 100s of PHEVs under test to find the "sweet spot" for lithium batteries
Lithiums must be very high quality to last and work well for mass production
Toyota admits to Peak Oil, partnering with other groups to adapt

The Road Ahead: talk by Michael Meyer  (The From-To discussion)
From: just cars  To: a variety of transport (bikes, walking, bus, EV, train)
From: building new infrastructure  To: maintaining current infrastructure
From: focus on transportation To: system view including food and the environment
From: raw land use  To: urban planning to meet the needs of the community
From: Seeing environment as a constraint  To: working to meet environmental needs
From: Cheap energy with oil  To: diminishing energy due to Peak Oil
From: Looking at personal cars  To: seeing all transportation including freight
From: Meeting local transport needs  To: working with the global transportation system
From: Transportation first  To: Community first

All future growth is in urban population centers
Our infrastructure is failing and we don't have funds to maintain it
All the wealth is in the "mega-regions" like the Portland/Vancouver/Seattle area
Technology is getting better but we'll have to work with less amount of more-expensive fuel
If we use less gasoline, the gas tax goes down: where do we get our funding?
"Sustainable Mobility" is the conference buzzword encompassing technology,
  environment, people behavior, etc...
The name of the game is seeing things from a systems perspective by getting people together
Before: transportation being driven by supply of cars and highways (infrastructure)
Future: transport driven by demand management and land use
Things are urgent: we are not sustainable today and need to see the systems perspective
Class problem: urban living is expensive, pushing lower-income people and seniors to
 the "outer edges" of cities where transportation costs are higher
Regions need flexibility to solve their local problems but still be interconnected with other regions
Oregon is the 7th most dependent state on trade due to its freight ports
We all like to analyze the problem like a system, but we still like one solution in the end
 when the answer is probably multiple solutions.
We need defined and open standards to clearly communicate and control our direction
Sustainable Mobility is not "alternative transportation" just like women are not "alternative men"

Speech by Governor Kulongowski:
Starting fleet program for PHEV Priuses
We're working toward an electrically based transportation infrastructure
involving plug-in vehicles, charging stations and a "smart" grid (V2G)

Lunch: Impacts of climate change on the Pacific Northwest by Tim Barnett
We are pulling more water from our rivers than nature is putting back in
Places in the Soutwest like Phoenix and LA are going to be dry in 15 years
The SF bay area water situation will turn salty as the ocean level rises and
salinates the drinking water supply.
With the Soutwest drying up and SF bay turning salty, there will be mass
 migrations to the Pacific Northwest (i.e. Portland!)  This is much larger than
 the Dust Bowl and will involve >10 million people (!)

Afternoon Panel: Future technology
We are seeing the convergence of the transportation and the power industry
BPA expects PHEVs to load the system for the next 10-15 years.  The grid
 (with night charging) can handle 75% of the cars today.
Once the density reaches 10% (300,000 cars), it's worth turning on a
 "smart" vehicle-to-grid infrastructure to even out the load (15-30 years out)
Beyond 30 years, hydrogen fuel-cell cars seem the way to go
Fuel cell cars have far more range than battery vehicles, refuelling is quick
 and the weight-to-storage capacity ratio is 5x that of the best lithium batteries today
BUT: fuel cell vehicles need to cut their costs 5-10x to be viable and we need
  an expensive hydrogen charging infrastructure
The power company would have three phases:
 1. time-based electricity rates to encourage charging at night
 2. having the charger auto-detect heavy grid loads and temporarily shutting down
 3. having vehicle-to-grid "smarts" to enable using cars as a storage device
We need to make incentives based on all externalities to push consumers in the right direction
"It's the batteries, stupid"  We need a 3000 cycle life on batteries for them to be viable
Fuel cells are here and working well, the hydrogen charging infrastructure clearly is NOT
We'll have to settle for lithium-ion batteries in the near future
Other issues with charging: When people plug in anywhere, how do you bill them
Vehicle-to-grid technology requires open standards and a cheap $20 home outlet that
 gets installed during the initial construction of houses
Houses should have a standard south-facing rooftop at the correct slope for photovoltaics
Priorities for government from a technology standpoint:
- stability in the incentive system (windmill credits need to last many years, not just presidential term)
- R+D for the infrastructure, this is a far bigger (10x) problem then the Apollo program
- Battery research
- Hydrogen recharging and battery recharging infrastructure
- Fuel cell R+D collaboration.  Working with Germany and France easy while US is really hard
  due to IP rules and people wanting a competitive edge
- R+D for vehicle-to-grid systems and power distribution
- "If it's measured, it gets worked on" - we need metrics to drive our behavior
- budgets are annual, these problems are 10-20 years out, we have a short-term mindset
We ship 700 Billion dollars overseas every year to buy oil.  If we spent 2 days of oil
purchasing on R+D, we'd have 4 billion dollars
We need to work on "good" biofuels that don't offset food or other needed items
The bigger problem is our psychology and short-term thinking, the answer is not technological

Day 2:

How can we live differently that doesn't need as much driving: Meg Nealon of LandDesign
People in the suburbs are trapped because cars are the only way they can get places
We need mixed housing/business centers for higher density living so people can walk, bike,
 use light rail, or use a car
Technology focusses on improving the car, whereas urban planning tends to kill the car
Issue: How do we "retrofit" suburbs for higher density living
Making dense housing requires a large percentage of those living in it to be carless (home office?)
We need to change rapidly and across all cities, not just have pockets of dense living
The "new" urbanism is really like the "old" urbanism that used horses and carts to get around
ZipCar is mainstream now with 10,000 new members each month, mainly driven by parking costs
The Pine Beetle is killing massive numbers of trees in B.C. now, we need a "War on Climate"
 and a carbon tax.  We're all in this together and we need to move NOW
Barrier to change
- everyone is waiting for someone else to go first (civil engineers tend to make conservative decisions)
- we don't have defined and open standards to make the pieces work together
- government beauracracy is slow and really hurts the small startup businesses without the lobbying $$

Tolls and Taxes: where do we get the money
How you define the problem often influences the way you try to solve it
Key strategy for charging people to pay for the highway infrastructure: "Pay for what you use"
Highways disobey this principle and are free for all users, causing massive congestion
One solution is to use technology to track where people drive and charge them for where they go
 and at what time.  See http://psrc.org/projects/trafficchoices/summaryreport.pdf
Big issue: even electric vehicles charged with photovoltaics at home still require an extensive
  oil-based infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges

Lunch lecture: Bill Reinert, manager of advanced technology at Toyota
Basically this was a big lecture on Peak Oil
Oil Shale is basically doing massive strip mining and using coal and massive quantities of fresh
 water to get oil
The world will have an oil "peak" in 2015 and in 2020 all world liquid fuels will peak
This is different from the Thanksgiving 2005 estimation by the "peakniks" because
 their data is ten years old.  Current data requires an annual 1.5 million dollar subscription
 that only large companies like Toyota can afford to pay
While dense urban centers are far more energy efficient, they still need an oil infrastructure
 to truck in food and other supplies to keep people alive.  We might improve for awhile, but,
 in the end, we're screwed.
Some people tout diesel hybrids as being better than gasoline hybrids, but diesels put out more
 NOX green house gasses.
Batteries, even lithium-ion are just toys compared with the energy density of liquid fuels.
Mexico is losing 15% annually on its major Cantarell oil field which makes 70% of their
economy.  Guess where the Mexicans will be migrating to.
For bio-fuels, we use the energy from coal to convert 900 gallons of fresh water into 1 gallon
 of biodiesel or 400-500 gallons of fresh water into ethanol.
Guidline for electric cars: each mile of range costs $500  (my $25,000 914 EV gets 50 mile range!)
Pickens Plan is not far off: we have lots of natural gas to buy us some time for a solution
What should we do: run away to a place surrounded by farmland where guns are outlawed with
 a Mediterranean climate, out of any major migration path.  The Pacific Northwest is a major
 migration path target and there are lots of guns in the US.  Try Japan, New Zealand or Southern France.
The US is great in technology but awful in congressional decisions and preparing the public for change
Bill Reinert is moving to Parker, Colorado to get away

Final inspirational speech by Alan Webber
Innovations are always driven by the outsider, who sees reality as it is and sees the status quo as
unacceptable.  The insiders are always working to maintain the status quo. 
Innovators are people who can't sleep at night knowing that things are the way they are.
Rosanne Haggerty was an outsider that made a successful plan to eliminate homelessness from New York
We need to network and work together instead of being in silos, working on our own little problem.
The system is against you.  Be stubborn and never give up.  This is our only chance.  Good Luck.


      
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