I’m not a big fan of Senator McCain but I do think that his proposal announced today for “a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology” is an excellent tool to foster energy innovation.
The winner-takes-all big prize strategy has proven successful in the past (DARPA Grand Challenge, X Prizes). And $300 million ($1 per American citizen) is much more motivating than the $10M Progressive Automotive X Prize.
I haven’t read the details of his proposal, but I hope that the technology that wins this prize will end up being open sourced for anyone to use. I don’t know how unrealistic these open sourcing terms would be though.