|George Beard shares PSU's Electric Avenue story with researchers from Tongji University, Shanghai, China|
Even though Oregon and Washington have worked to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, recently a debate has arisen locally over plans to transport coal from Wyoming and Montana through Oregon's ports--mostly to China. Although no clear answers emerged regarding the coal exports, it became clear through discussion that both Oregon and China are working hard to reduce their reliance on both domestic fossil fuels and imported fuels. One very effective strategy, according to experts from both sides of the Pacific, is promotion of the electric vehicle.
What do Oregon and China have in common? What knowledge can we share?
The Chinese and Americans in the delegation were both concerned with global climate change, national reliance on foreign oil, increasing global demand for petroleum-based fuels, and increasing gas prices. These factors are clearly affecting the transportation choices in both places, with consumers and industries opting for more fuel-efficient and alternative energy vehicles. In both places, too, coal remains an important energy source and both seem to understand that technologies to help us use coal more efficiently will play an important role in the near future. Most evident during this visit, was that both Oregon and China see EV as a promising pathway for reducing GHG emissions-- even if coal is powering that electricity.
|Professor Sun Zechang, Dean of the School of Automotive Studies at Tongji University (center) rides Portland's electric-powered streetcar|
While riding on Portland's electric-powered streetcar, Professor Zechang asked if I'd heard of Google's "smart cars". Now legal on Nevada roadways, these self-driving cars are the wave of the future, in his estimation.As such, we should be thinking about the EV industry less like Detroit and more like Silicon Valley, he advised. "Universities will be consulting and contributing to development of electric transport.... EV experts are the IT professionals of tomorrow."
So, Oregon, is there room in our silicon forest for a silicon highway?