Even in Trump era, green energy innovation is sparking, not sputtering

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Eric Wachsman – Director of the the Maryland Energy Innovation Insitute and William L. Crentz Centennial Chair in Energy Research – was recently quoted in The Christian Science Monitor about green energy innovation.

It begins:

Eric Wachsman thinks he might have an answer to one of the great challenges that’s hindering the rise of electric vehicles: building better batteries.

The need is clear enough. The University of Maryland scientist knows that “range anxiety” has been one of the sticking points for consumers. “We want more and more energy out of every battery” he says.

But Professor Wachsman’s big idea – using a solid ceramic rather than flammable liquids inside the battery – won’t show up in electric vehicles anytime soon. Even when a technology works, proving its commercial viability, refining it, and attracting private investment to scale up production takes time and effort.

Wachsman’s project, part of a federal program to stimulate energy research, symbolizes some of the difficult realities as nations seek to address climate change by moving rapidly toward a clean-energy economy. Breakthroughs in technology are both vital and possible, but they require upfront patience before any big payoff – a patience that private-sector investors typically don’t have.

Published April 30, 2018