McCain proposes another energy gimmick, Part 1 — pointless battery prize. Is this another $300M to ExxonMobil?
"McCain proposes another energy gimmick, Part 1 — pointless battery prize. Is this another $300M to ExxonMobil?"
Conservative presidential hopeful John McCain has offered yet more proof he doesn’t understand energy — and more opportunity for the media to salivate over his faux “maverick-ness”:
The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting is proposing a $300 million government prize to whomever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology….
McCain said such a device should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs and have “the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”
This idea is almost as bad and almost as cynical as the gas tax holiday (see “Gas tax holiday is cynical and indefensible“).
POINTLESS: First off, every energy and car company on the planet knows they’ll get rich by improving batteries. The world is probably spending $1 billion a year in this quest. This $300 million prize is a pointless gimmick, just a cynical move to get some good PR.
NOT HOW TECHNOLOGY WORKS: You don’t just invent a battery that has the “cost … to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” That requires mass production, hundreds of thousands if not millions of batteries produced a year, to get the economies of scale and the benefits of the manufacturing learning curve. When you “invent” the batttery, you do a spreadsheet on what mass production costs would be. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare to try to figure out who would win this. Does the money go to the most plausible spreadsheet?
HASN’T EXXONMOBIL ALREADY SOLVED THIS PROBLEM?
I keep seeing this ad on TV that says ExxonMobil has made a “real breakthrough” in lithium-ion batteries that pretty much solves the problem. You can watch their video here.
So is this battery prize idea just another way for McCain shuffle more money to the oil companies without actually lowing energy costs for consumers, like the gas tax holiday and the offshore drilling flip-flop? (see “EIA bombshell: Offshore drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030″³.)
Actually, McCain’s speech has another proposed solution to our energy problem that is fundamentally flawed, which I will discuss in the second part. See if you can identify it here.
We deserve more serious ideas from Senator McCain — and more serious coverage from Big Media.
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