News on the green car front is often about small startup companies touting breakthrough cars, like the Coda, whose future is at best problematic. The real breakthroughs are going to occur in labs and R&D facilities engaged in “what the energy secretary, Steven Chu, calls the hunt for miracles.” They are looking for new fuels to replace petroleum.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has a piddling $400-million-over-two-year budget and is in fact modeled on the Pentagon’s DARPA (now with a $3.2 billion budget), which created the technological miracles that gave us the Internet and stealth aircraft.
ARPA-E has some wild projects going in new fuel sources, batteries, and gasoline substitutes. The agency puts seed money into startups like Agrivida, a company developing ways to break down cellulose with enzymes and make cheap fuel on a grand scale.
The goal of this agency, whose budget is $400 million for two years, is to realize profound results—such as tens of millions of motor vehicles that would run 300 miles a day on electricity from clean sources or on liquid fuels from trees and garbage.