How the Energy Foundation Helps Pave the Way for Clean Vehicles

While private companies like Tesla and Nissan are enjoying success in bringing electric cars to the market, philanthropy still has a role to play in helping pave the way for a cleaner vehicle fleet, both in the U.S. and globally. 

The Energy Foundation is on the case. In just the past few months, it has invested almost a million dollars into work on clean vehicles.

The California-based funder allocated $425,000 each to the Union of Concerned Sciences (UCS) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to improve policies around promotion of clean vehicles and fuels policies, an issue that is firmly in the spotlight with the challenges Tesla has faced in selling its vehicles directly to the public.

The UCS has been a leading light on clean vehicle development, with its Half the Oil plan, aiming, unsurprisingly, to cut projected U.S. fuel consumption in half. The plan includes increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, increasing development of electric vehicles, encouraging further investment in biofuels and creating smarter infrastructure and mass transit systems.

The NRDC, meanwhile, has pushed for removing tax breaks and other support for oil companies and channelling the money into research and development of more efficient vehicles and other transportation solutions.

Both will be encouraged by the news of New York State’s recent $4.3 million to 17 projects aimed at creating cleaner transportation systems.

The Energy Foundation has also provided $80,000 to the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATRC) for a problem-solving study around development of new energy vehicle development in China.

This is part of a long-standing interest in the country through the stand-alone Energy Foundation China, which assists other agencies, experts and entrepreneurs engaged in fighting the country’s energy challenges.

The grant for CATRC is again timely, with Chinese Premier Li Kegiang this week announcing a new commitment to clean energy development, including active promotion of electric vehicles.

China is already the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy but still faces increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, with its growth showing little signs of stagnating. Forecasters this week said the country could overtake the US as the world’s largest economy earlier than predicted.