It's an interesting time for electric cars and renewable energy. Car companies are investing major resources into electrification — just look at Tesla’s portfolio and GM’s upcoming EV plans — but gas guzzling trucks an SUVs aren’t going away any time soon. As climate change continues largely unabated, more and more renewable energy comes online, but fossil fuels remain ubiquitous. With that in mind, National Geographic author Craig Welch and photographer David Guttenfelder rented an EV and took off from Santa Monica across the country on an electric road trip to see the state of U.S. energy infrastructure for themselves.
In the article titled, “We took the Great American Road Trip — in electric cars,” Welch and Guttenfelder begin at the end of old Route 66 in a Hyundai Kona EV, and retrace the trip — in reverse — than many early motorists took to migrate to California beginning in the 1930s. Later, they switch to a Tesla Model S. In addition to aging roadside attractions and the occasional electric vehicle charging station, they meet a number of people invested in or affected by the changing energy industry.
They talk to Ben New, vice president of construction for 8minute Solar Energy. They meet members in small Navajo community in Arizona where a power plant — a polluter that employed many locals — was shutting down. They visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where researchers are developing technology using perovskite crystals that could transform solar energy by making it much more affordable. They visit a wind farm in Texas, witness a truck in Kansas roll coal after traffic is blocked by a truck carrying a turbine blade, and talk to the former mayor of a carbon-free town, and tour a solar facility in Ohio.
They even attend a speech by Greta Thunberg, and talk to Rivian founder R.J. Scaringe.
Of course, being National Geographic, the entire story is accompanied by amazing photography. It requires a subscription to read online, but the entire article can be found here.