Increasing independence with “sticky” energy

Andy Grove, former Intel CEO, and Robert Burgelman, Stanford business professor, suggest that energy resilience should be the goal of energy policy.

The article’s main points are:

  • energy independence goals have been set, and not reached
  • electricity-based technologies aren’t subject to supply shocks or interruptions
  • energy resilience should be the realistic goal, not independence
  • we should first switch gas-guzzlers to hybrid capability (gasoline and electric)

I agree that electricity is less portable, or more “sticky” than petroleum. Electricity generally needs to be consumed near the point of generation.  That means the only other barriers are driving behavior, climate and geography, because the infrastructure for electricity isn’t going to be everywhere you might want to drive.

Formal studies of other conversion projects like this have been done, primarily around a switch to hydrogen fuel. The EU’s matisse project has done economic studies of what this would mean, and similar work is needed for the hybrid question.

My concern is that the car consumer is already ahead of Mr. Grove here, and there will be little political support for this. So what is the best way to achieve the goal of switching SUV and Van fleets to gas/electric hybrid operation?

Corporate fleets of vans and trucks could be switched first, because:

  • A smaller number of companies and government entities are effected (easier data collection and enforcement)
  • For government fleets, the economic risks are spread across a larger tax base

Suggestions and pointers to models of switching costs are welcome.