Wednesday Google and GE announced a partnership to work on smart grid technology together to help enable plug-in hybrids. This partnership makes a lot of sense in terms of a marriage of software and hardware. Plus if you put their mottoes together you get a heck of corporate credo. We should all aspire to that.
This comes in the same week that GM unveiled the production version of the Chevy Volt, which promises to be one of the first, if not the first, OEM plug-in hybrids on the market. I'm pretty excited about the Volt and plug-in hybrids (and happy by the way the production version address my too-cool-for-school concerns with the concept model). We need them and need them soon if we're going to address the transportation sector's greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector is responsible for 30% of our GHG emissions, and scientists all agree that these emissions are causing global warming regardless of what GM's CEO Bob Lutz said to Steven Colbert.
But I also agree with Vinod Khosla, who recently told the Always On GoingGreen conference:
"The new green is about engines, lighting, appliances, batteries, gasoline diesel," Khosla said. "It's not about clean tech, it's about main tech. If you're going to find climate change solutions, it's got to be about main tech."
Smartplanet.com's coverage continued:
He said that the Tata Nano has sold millions in India, and the Honda Civic Hybrid has sold in thousands. "How do we make this car (the Nano) low carbon at $2,500? The technologies not only have to be fashionable but they have to be relevant at scale," he said.
Apparently he also mentioned that he has talked to NRDC about his idea for a LEED like rating system for biofuels. He's talked to me about it, and I think it's a great idea. We're actively working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, which I think could be the basis for such a certification standard, and with the Council on Sustainable Biomass Production, which we hope will be the US interpretation of the RSB for advanced biofuels feedstocks. The Inter-American Development Bank recently launched a scorecard for biofuels projects it is considering helping based on the RSB principles, and with any luck the RSB will quickly become the global standard for biofuels sustainability.
I think his proposal for focusing on what he calls CLAW (carbon, land, air, water) is particularly appropriate for government policies. As I told the Senate back in July, we need to radically reform our current biofuels tax credits to make the current wasteful mess into a single, technology-neutral, performance based incentive. NRDC is in the early stages of thinking through how this could work, and we're starting with the CLAW framework.