May 10, 2010

Electric vehicles a new brightspot for cleantech

The Berkeley-Stanford CleanTech Conference Series commenced its 5th conference today. Joining together were government, private sector, and nonprofit speakers and participants. A clear message emerged that electric vehicles are being reinvented and booming forward in both the U.S. and China.

According to Jack Jacobs, managing partner at Cleantech Law Partners, “Electric vehicles, widely considered essential to fighting climate change, offer tremendous investment opportunities for the cleantech community. The twist is who will be first to seize these opportunities the United States or China?”

China has a huge appetite for electric vehicles. According to conference speakers, the country already has an established market for electric bike scooters and is the leader in supplying parts for electric vehicles worldwide. Combined with the government’s ability to quickly and effectively channel resources, China is unquestionably a leader in the field.

The U.S., too, has invested large amounts in electric vehicles, including $2 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More is needed, however, and according to Roland Hwang at the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, the U.S. also needs a comprehensive federal climate policy and energy plan to further stimulate the electric vehicle market.

Other conference participants stressed the vital role of both the private sector and the U.S. government. The cleantech community, for example, is driving innovation by bringing new technologies to market. The federal government’s role includes developing infrastructure to charge the vehicles and creating regulatory consistency for electricity accounting and plug-in charging devices.

Local government initiatives also play a role. San Francisco’s Department of the Environment announced at the conference that the City’s infrastructure will be ready to fully accommodate electric vehicles by 2011.

Ultimately winning the race may be of secondary importance to the U.S., China, and the rest of the world moving together in the right direction, mainstreaming a new generation of electric vehicles.

To view the press release, please click here

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