There is no denying that America and the rest of the world need to move away from fossil fuel dependency in order to achieve a sustainable future. However, critics of renewable energy sources continue to cite these ambitions as both ill-fated and unrealistic.
Though there exists some debate over which avenues to put funding and research efforts into, electricity seems to be the most prominent. As Jonathan Strickland of www.howstuffworks.com put it, “Electricity is the most likely of all the alternative fuels to be the next mainstream fuel for the consumer.”
America is no stranger to the electric car, having had several of its major automakers recently unveil concepts—and now even high-production models—fitting this trend. Perhaps the most notable of these is the recently released Chevy Volt, which shows a lot of promise and received high praise from automotive critics across the country.
However, as a nation we are far from establishing a network that could effectively support the mainstream ownership of electric cars. Current infrastructure would need to be overhauled to provide public access to charging stations—currently available for private ownership—that fuel them. Such a task is undoubtedly a large undertaking, and many have billed it as unreasonable or unattainable.
Estonia thinks otherwise. Having recently finished installation of a nationwide network for charging electric cars, Estonia is the first nation to have completed this feat. Of course, it will take time for the general populace of that nation to phase out combustion-engine vehicles, but they now have the necessary tools to do just that.
Still, many argue that this would not be possible to do seamlessly in a nation as large as America. As a gearhead, I can empathize with the plight of those who feel we are surrendering our freedom to electric vehicles; but the time for change is now, and there is no denying that.
Of all the major cities in our nation, New York is making the single largest push to build this infrastructure. Mayor Bloomberg has introduced a plan to build 10,000 parking spots and charging units for electric cars over the next seven years, and also claims that the city will begin phasing in electric cars as taxis. This example will need to be followed nationwide in order to ensure any sort of success in bringing electric cars to the forefront of the American automotive transit.
There are certainly still a great number of questions to be answered regarding these changes. Many have posed objections that America will have to invest a great deal of money into ramping up the power grid to ensure it can handle this sort of elevated demand.
Others have complained that electric cars will not make a serious impact unless the electricity they are running on is generated in environmentally friendly ways. Of course, these claims are valid, but they discount the opportunity for electric cars to create millions of jobs in a struggling economy.
We as Americans may have our doubts about the introduction of electric cars into mainstream society, but we can no longer afford to. It is imperative that Americans across the nation begin to follow the examples set by both Mayor Bloomberg and the Estonian government in order to ensure a more sustainable future.