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PLENITUDE on Económico TV

"Comissão Executiva" program broadcasted by Económico TV on last 28th of March were topics like Inovation, R&D, Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness of Portuguese companies were discussed by Luís Martinez from Nova Business School, Tawfiq ...

Energy Highlights

Why are women less likely to buy electric vehicles than men?

By Jessica Kutz—Originally published by The 19th

A few months ago, Renee Russak and her partner of 30 years embarked on a road trip from their home in Seattle to Whistler, Canada, to visit a friend. This was different from past travels: They were driving in their recently purchased electric car, a used Volvo. 

The trip is over 200 miles each way, and they had used a phone app to carefully map out where they would stop for electric charging stations. Though their car could last over 200 miles on a single charge, they planned to recharge it twice on each leg of the trip. Cold temperatures can drain a battery, and they didn’t want to chance sputtering out in the middle of nowhere. 

The couple had another big consideration in planning their travels: Personal safety. 

They made sure to drive only during the day and chose charging stations in mall parking lots and grocery stores. Waiting to charge a car can take much longer than filling one up with gas. 

“[We were] stopping in places that felt like they were predictable, and there would be people around. That was kind of my MO,” Russak said. 

For the most part, their trip went without a hitch. The most difficult parts were the charging stations themselves. Oftentimes chargers were out of service or not working properly, and charging companies required downloading different apps to pay for their charge, which got cumbersome. The technology is still kind of glitchy. Russak estimates it works maybe 85 percent of the time. 

“Pray to the electron gods,” she joked. 

This lack of reliability in charging infrastructure and considerations for safety could help explain why women like Russak and her partner make up the minority of electric car drivers. But they aren’t the only factors contributing to the gender gap. Early research and recent surveys point to factors ranging from socioeconomic status, to experiences at car dealerships, to less awareness of how electric cars work. 

As the United States rolls out a plan to invest in charging infrastructure in all 50 states, it is becoming more important to understand how and why women aren’t making the transition to electric cars as quickly as men. 

In the first half of 2021, less than 30 percent of electric vehicles were purchased by women. However, a separate 2022 survey found that 47 percent of women say that in the next five years they’d be interested in purchasing one, compared with 53 percent of men. There is no available data on nonbinary people in either data set.

While most people might consider the electric car to be a modern invention, they’ve been around since the 1800s. Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Co., drove an electric car, as did other wealthy women of the time. These cars were seen as “women’s cars” since they were cleaner and easier to use because you didn’t need to crank start the engine.

“Women were presumed to be too weak, timid and fastidious to want to drive noisy, smelly gasoline-powered cars,” historian Virginia Scharff wrote in an essay. “Thus at first, manufacturers, influenced by Victorian notions of masculinity and femininity, devised a kind of ‘separate spheres’ ideology about automobiles: gas cars were for men, electric cars were for women.”

Fast forward to today, and despite the fact that consumer choices viewed as more environmentally minded are stereotyped as feminine, men actually make up the majority of electric car drivers. 

A survey conducted last January by consumer advocacy nonprofit Consumer Reports with over 8,000 respondents offers some insight as to why this gender gap persists. Men were both more familiar with how electric car charging works and more likely to have been in an electric car than women.

“So if women are being less exposed to them, it makes sense that they're showing lower interest overall,” said Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy at Consumer Reports. “There's also the fact that women said that they have less familiarity with the fundamentals of owning an [electric vehicle] … So I think a way to address all of this, obviously, is some exposure, some education, to create more familiarity.”

FILE - A Chevrolet Volt hybrid car is seen charging at a ChargePoint charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles, Oct. 17, 2018. Sixteen states across the country that have tied their vehicle emission standards to California's now face weighty decisions on whether to follow that state's strictest-in-the nation new rules and require that all new cars, pickups and SUVs be electric or hydrogen powered by 2035. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Women were twice as likely to say they were concerned about their safety at public charging stations. Unlike gas stations, charging stations do not have employees on site and tend to be more out of the way — often they are situated in the back of parking lots. And in comparison to the five minutes it takes to fill up a car with gas, electric cars require at least 30 minutes to recharge.

Russak, who has two adult daughters, 18 and 22, said she wouldn’t feel comfortable if either of them had to charge the car at night or in an isolated place. 

“It would be creepy,” she said. “In Canada there are these [charging] stations off the mountain roads at utility stations or rest stops, but they are off the beaten path. I wouldn’t stop at one of those at night.” 

Early charging stations in the United States have been placed in inconvenient places, too. Andrea Colomina, the sustainable communities program director at Green Latinos, said one of the first locations to get a charger in New York City was the parking lot of a zoo. 

“The first generation [of charging stations] was really not holistically thought out. As usual, because men were making most of the decisions, they were not walking through the scenarios,” she said. “You have to think through what is the experience of every potential user.”  

Race is another factor. While interest in electric cars from Latinx and Black respondents to the Consumer Reports survey was on par with White consumers, they are making the switch at lower rates. 

Electric cars are pricier than their gas-fueled counterparts. The average price of a new electric car is around $61,000, compared with $49,000 for a gas-powered car. This is becoming less of an issue as more models come online, and recent federal rebates also help lower the price tag. On average, electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain. 

More importantly, those who buy electric cars tend to own their homes, meaning they can install chargers and plug in their cars overnight, negating the need to use a public charger for day-to-day commutes. For women and people of color, who are less likely to own homes and are more likely to live in multifamily dwellings where charging stations are often not part of the parking infrastructure, charging their cars becomes an additional task. 

Even the motivations of current electric vehicle owners vary between women and men, research has found.

“A lot of this all just seems so stereotypical,” said Kenneth Kurani, associate researcher at University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. He co-authored the paper “Engendering the Future of Electric Vehicles: Conversations with Men and Women.” In 2014, researchers held focus groups looking into the motivations behind electric vehicle purchases. 

The results? “Men like toys, and women were more likely to talk about electric vehicles in terms of their practical use within the day-to-day of getting stuff done,” he said. 

At the time of the survey, 70 percent of electric cars were purchased by men, even as half of all car purchases in the United States were made by women. That is still reflected in today’s market reality.

The 19th reached out to women to better understand what might be holding them back from purchasing an electric car. One LGBTQ+ woman, who requested anonymity as a queer person in Texas, said that after considering an electric car she stuck with purchasing a gas-powered Subaru Outback. Charging in parking lots felt less safe than going to a gas station, and the ability to go on longer trips was also important to her. 

“When I was a child, I lived in New Orleans and my family evacuated for Katrina in a Dodge Caravan minivan. As a result I highly value the ability to travel long distances in a vehicle, and EV charging stations simply aren't as available in rural areas,” she said. “Given the current legislative and judicial situation in our country and my home state of Texas, as a LGBT woman it could be important for me to drive hundreds of miles without even stopping for gasoline, much less a charging station that might not be available.”

While many of the women who responded to The 19th were quick to point out their disdain for Elon Musk, those who could afford to purchase a Tesla felt that the company’s charging stations, which can only be used to charge Teslas, were convenient and seamless to use. Overall, they seemed happy with their charging experience..

Inside a Tesla electric vehicle (Courtesy: David von Diemar/Unsplash)

“I love not having to go to gas stations,” said Francie Jain, a Tesla owner who spoke to The 19th. “I’ve had a few close calls with assault at gas stations and I’m delighted if I never have to use one again.” 

Warren, of Consumer Reports, points out that as one of the first mass producers of electric cars and charging infrastructure, Tesla was able to build its chargers in good locations. 

“Every company that's come out after that, trying to create their own network has been essentially dealing with almost leftovers. So people are putting up charging stations in the back of, I don't know, a Walmart.” 

But with $5 billion allocated in the 2021 federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand public charging stations, experts say it is important that these other networks are just as reliable as Tesla stations. There should be greater considerations for women’s safety and more thoughtfulness in where this next wave of charging infrastructure is built, experts said.

At the end of the day, for both men and women, sometimes it’s as simple as convenience.

As Katherine Radeka told The 19th in an email, “For electric cars to go mainstream, recharging needs to be as easy as filling a gas tank, even if it will never be as fast. And for security reasons, no one wants to be hanging around a charging station trying to troubleshoot their app at night on a dark street.”


Hydropower technology development is encouraged, but implementation is challenged – Why?

Whooshh fish

By Boualem Hadjerioua, Madison Bowling and Dol Raj Chalise

Hydropower is a mature technology that is over a century old, and it is therefore challenging to introduce innovative technology without robust proof of cost reduction and zero implementation risk. However, newer technology could be necessary to reduce construction costs and meet environmental requirements in hydropower project development. The U.S. government has supported several innovative technology development, research and deployment projects to accelerate hydropower growth. With the initial government support, small private companies have developed innovative equipment (e.g., fish friendly turbine, modular low-head turbine, etc.). However, the implementation of these technologies is being challenged in the hydropower industry.

This article explores the importance of innovative technologies, as well as gathers technology developer testimonials regarding the reasons behind the current hindrance of innovation implementation in the hydropower sector. This article suggests that the U.S. government, regulators and power utilities should support small innovators in creating new ideas and solutions to accelerate technology innovation implementation and help hydropower growth in the U.S.

Analysis of the issue

The U.S. government has set goals to meet 100% clean electricity by 2035 and achieve a zero-emissions economy by 2050.1 To achieve these goals, the U.S. government is implementing an aggressive renewable energy plan -- mainly focused on wind and solar -- to increase, improve and build upon existing infrastructure. Hydropower could play a significant role in balancing the U.S.'s intermittent renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Hydropower is becoming more necessary than ever, yet somehow implementation of hydropower innovative technologies is being challenged.

Implementing new ideas and technologies is always riskier than clinging to what is known, tried and accepted. In addition to risk, innovation could also lead to higher initial expenses. It is challenging to find funds for technology development, and often these funds cannot support years of laboratory testing, prototype validation and acceptance for implementation. Even when the risks and added expenses are well worth implementation, many companies prefer to continue using older, more mature technologies rather than venture out into the unknown. The current trends suggest that innovators working for small companies are spending time, effort and money devising new ideas and developing technological improvements only for these ideas to be ignored by the industry. If innovation continues to be challenged by those with the means to support and fund new ideas, small companies will be forced to cease pursuing the creation of innovative ideas entirely. When innovation stalls, the progression of new technologies will also stall. A lack of innovation implementation will surely lead to the eventual failure of these small companies.

The question that needs to be answered is: Why is the implementation of innovation being so heavily challenged, and how can the hydropower industry and developers be more willing to implement new technologies?

Innovation technology developer testimonials

The authors selected five promising developers to discuss their journeys with their technology, from conception to implementation: Steve Dearden for Whooshh Innovations, Paul Roos for Amjet Turbine Systems LLC (ATS), Gregory Allen for Alden Research Laboratory LLC, Tom Cuthbert for Emrgy and Andy Sadlon for NuSTREEM.

Each of these innovators has developed a technology with unique advantages over existing technologies in their respective fields. The development of their technologies was time-consuming and required a significant investment. However, all of these technology developers have struggled to develop their technologies, to finally seeing them challenged for implementation by the industry. Each technology developer was asked two questions to identify issues in innovation and potential paths forward in the hydropower sector.

These five technology developers also participated in the National Hydropower Association’s Waterpower Innovation Council Workshop on “Deploying New Technology: Why are we Stuck?” in 2022, as a follow up of the NHA Clean Current Workshop in 2021.

Question 1: Can you please describe your technology and its unique advantages?

Whooshh Innovations has developed novel fish passages for delivering fish safely, timely, efficiently and effectively over dams and other obstacles.2 Whooshh fish-friendly technologies are less expensive, more adaptable and easier to deploy than traditional solutions. They can also sort species in real time to prevent migration of undesirable species.

(photo courtesy Whooshh Innovations)

ATS has developed innovative turbine technologies to lower the manufacturing, installation and maintenance costs of small hydro installations.3 The ATS unique advantages over existing technologies are their compactness and suitability for low-head (7 ft to 40 ft) hydropower applications.

(photo courtesy Amjet Turbine Systems)

The Alden fish-friendly turbine provides the safe, timely and effective passage of fish downstream and avoids costly fish exclusion structures and other expensive measures such as daily or periodic turbine shutdowns.4 The Alden turbine’s unique advantages over existing technologies are the substantial benefits to fish survival versus conventional and minimal gap runner Kaplan designs, Francis runners and other turbine technologies. 

(photo courtesy Alden Research Laboratory)

Emrgy has developed a distributed hydropower system that can be rapidly deployed in existing water conveyance infrastructure to create distributed energy arrays using vertical-axis hydrokinetic turbines that harness the energy of moving water through low-impact and low-cost energy systems.5 Emrgy's solutions require minimal to no construction or modifications to existing infrastructure, can be deployed within 90 days and can leverage existing power conversion. The control technology can tie into existing distribution grids the same as solar.

(photo courtesy Emrgy)

NuSTREEM manufactures modular and intelligent Kaplan turbines for low-head (8 ft to 40 ft) small hydropower applications.6 NuSTREEM’s technology eliminates the need for a dam, offers a decentralized generation capability and the ability to harvest energy from existing hydropower-intensive systems, and reduces environmental effects, all with a low setup and procurement cost.

(photo courtesy NuSTREEM)

Question 2: How challenging was it to develop your technology, why is the industry not encouraging innovative technology implementation, and what can government and industry do better to help?

According to most of the technology developers, the hydropower industry is not encouraging innovative technology implementation because of the fear of investment risk. The industry does not desire to challenge the status quo, even when new technologies present more effective, affordable and adaptable solutions. Hydropower owners will not make decisions without agency acceptance. For technologies to achieve agency acceptance, a significant monetary investment must be made to prove successful results. Even though it could be more profitable for them in the long run, project owners do not want to make this initial investment. For risks to be worthwhile, the rate of return must be significantly greater than those risks. In Sadlon’s words, “Possibly our industry is seemingly slow to invest in innovation due to influences either proving the economic equation is hard to achieve or the risks are too great to overcome.” The more hesitant that industry and government are to invest in new innovations, the less likely innovators will be to put their time and effort into making necessary advancements.

Even when innovators have an abundance of data to indicate a high likelihood of success for their technology, they often do not have sufficient funding to implement the new technology for demonstrations and have little assurance that regulators will seriously consider the technology for permanent installation if proven successful. Most of the interviewees agreed the main way that the hydropower industry can aid innovators is by offering them more funding and innovator incentives. They stated solutions such as providing incentives for unique generation platforms, funding up to 100% of project costs for demonstrations and project deployments, funding ATS with forgivable loans, and receiving government support of reference installations. It would be especially helpful if more opportunities were offered to smaller hydropower companies, as it is harder for these companies to gain large innovation investments. If the hydropower industry offers more opportunities for long-term renewable energy innovations to occur, these technological innovations will lead to larger benefits and successful results in the future.


In this article, the authors explored challenges in implementing innovative technologies to help the hydropower industry. Large hydropower companies are often reluctant to adopt these newer technologies, citing that the technologies are untested and unproven and could be risky. Small hydropower companies do not have sufficient funds to perform robust prototype tests of their technologies prior to implementation in the field. The U.S. government and large companies should help these small hydropower innovators financially and provide them a common platform to demonstrate their technologies, therefore encouraging innovators to continually focus on developing innovative hydropower technologies and encouraging those that regulate them to be open to new ideas and solutions.


The world continues to move forward and embrace faster, newer and more improved technologies. Innovation does not always mean replacing current technologies completely. Sometimes innovation simply means improving upon and adding to the technologies already in place. It is important that innovative ideas are marketed as being helpful and important rather than risky. While the original venture into innovation may require a large investment of money and time, this initial investment could eventually lead to larger benefits and successful results. The companies that are willing to take risks and embrace innovation will be the first ones to reap the rewards.

The government and its programs, such as the Department of Energy, are helping innovators by providing them some initial funding and/or in-kind technical support to develop and laboratory test these small hydropower technologies. Apart from funding support, DOE is contemplating the idea of establishing testing facilities for new technology, prototype testing and validation for implementation. Additionally, the hydropower industry could allocate budgets for implementing new and innovative technologies rather than just continuing to “play it safe” by using old technologies. To promote the importance of innovation, innovators themselves need to be given more of a platform to display their ideas and vouch for the importance of their success. Innovators should be taken seriously as vital additions to the hydropower community, as their ideas will allow companies to grow and succeed.


The work described in this article was supported by Mesa Associates, Inc. The authors would like to acknowledge and express their appreciation to the technology developers for their participation and feedback, and for providing the photos in this article (Steve Dearden, Paul Roos, Tom Cuthbert, Andy Sadlon and Gregory Allen) and to NHA Waterpower Innovation Council leadership (Suzanne Biddle, Marla Barnes, Steve Wenke and Anthony Laurita) for their help and support with the workshops related to this article.

Dr. Boualem Hadjerioua is Director of Integrated Water Resource Management, Madison Bowling is an Administrative Assistant, and Dr. Dol Raj Chalise is a Project Manager at Mesa Associates, Inc.


1U.S. Department of Energy, 2022, https://www.energy.gov/oe/articles/doe-launches-new-initiative-president-bidens-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-modernize

2Whooshh Innovations, https://www.whooshh.com/

3Amjet Turbine Systems, LLC (ATS), http://www.amjethydro.com/

4Alden Research Laboratory, http://www.verdantas.com/alden

5Emrgy, https://emrgy.com/

6NuSTREEM, https://nustreem.com/

Originally published by Hydro Review


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