The science, technology and economics of running Europe without oil were the focus of the 9th annual lecture by the European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Commitee on Tuesday. EP-Vice-President responsible for STOA Silvana Koch-Mehrin, and recently graduated YGL of 2005, opened the event by stressing the huge potential benefits of changing from conventional, internal combustion engine vehicles, to electric cars which at present account for a negligible share of the European market.
Shai Agassi , also graduated YGL of 2005, CEO of Better Place company, which will operate battery recharging networks and swapping stations in Israel and Denmark in 2011, was certain that Europe will switch to electric cars in less then ten years, because oil is getting ever more expensive, while each new generation of batteries is cheaper and more efficient than the previous ones .
"Consumers will embrace electric cars when they offer them the same convenience, but are as cheap to buy as a 3-year old petrol car and cost the same to run per kilometre," said Mr Agassi, adding that the problem of the relatively short range of electric cars would be solved by setting up networks of recharge/exchange points. He estimated that "the price of setting up such a network in a given country or a continent is equivalent to only 6 days of its costs on gasoline".
He also urged Europe's legislators to move faster in this area, because China "is already in its rear view mirror and about to overtake", thanks to "centralised decision-making and large economies of scale".
The other speakers included the winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry, Dr Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute, and the winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for chemistry Professor George Oláh.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Vice-President, European Parliament, Brussels (YGL 2005)
Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place, USA (YGL 2005)