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Electricity generated by windmills, sponsored by one of the last of the iconoclastic oilmen.
Electric powered automobiles that actually have a driving radius between recharges of more than an hour or two.
We’ve looked at wind power several times [mm294: Making the world unsafe for bats and birds; mm220: It’s all about power; mm204: Wind power – Ugly, noisy, destructive! Who knew?] in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© as an idea whose time has arrived.
And we caught the first inklings of Shai Agassi’s ambitious electric dream earlier this year [mm271: The automobile post – diesel / electric].
Leave it to Tom Friedman of the NYTimes, global strategic thinker that he is, to make the connection.
Texas to Tel Aviv
Op-Ed Columnist | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN | Published: July 27, 2008
What would happen if you cross-bred J. R. Ewing of “Dallas” and Carl Pope, the head of the Sierra Club? You’d get T. Boone Pickens. What would happen if you cross-bred Henry Ford and Yitzhak Rabin? You’d get Shai Agassi. And what would happen if you put together T. Boone Pickens, the green billionaire Texas oilman now obsessed with wind power, and Shai Agassi, the Jewish Henry Ford now obsessed with making Israel the world’s leader in electric cars?
You’d have the start of an energy revolution.
The only good thing to come from soaring oil prices is that they have spurred innovator/investors, successful in other fields, to move into clean energy with a mad-as-hell, can-do ambition to replace oil with renewable power. Two of the most interesting of these new clean electron wildcatters are Boone and Shai.
Agassi, age 40, is an Israeli software whiz kid who rose to the senior ranks of the German software giant SAP. He gave it all up in 2007 to help make Israel a model of how an entire country can get off gasoline and onto electric cars. He figured no country has a bigger interest in diminishing the value of Middle Eastern oil than Israel. On a visit to Israel in May, I took a spin in a parking lot on the Tel Aviv beachfront in Agassi’s prototype electric car, while his sister watched out for the cops because it is not yet licensed for Israeli roads.
Pickens, always crazy like a fox, makes sense:
Pickens is motivated by American nationalism. Because of all the money we are shipping abroad to pay for our oil addiction, he says, “we are on the verge of losing our superpower status.” His vision is summed up on his Web site: “We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700 billion a year … I have been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of. If we create a renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil.”
Friedman’s take on all this: as usual, the private sector is treading where the government, led by an unreconstructed dope oilman, can’t or won’t. And yes, while Israel has even more reason to sever its own addiction to petroleum, the ginormous transfer of U.S. treasure to our frienemies is rapidly sending the country careening down into second class status.
So it will take a new administration to face down the critical issues that confront this nation. We can all hope that the new government will be inspired by the words and deeds of Daniel Burnham and John F. Kennedy to grab good ideas from wherever they emerge, even from reconstructed oilmen and unlikely entrepreneurs.
It’s it for now. Thanks,