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Electric Car = Personal Power Station?

November 3, 2011

Humanity may not have developed a lot of wisdom about how to live in harmony with the earth, but we sure have developed a lot of smart technology. And given all the global trend lines (climate change, resource depletion, pollution) the ever-expanding (encroaching?) human experiment has set in motion, and the inability for politics or culture to slow or reverse them, you have to pray that technology, somehow, will help bail us out.

Here’s the sort of tech that feeds that hope: the potential for electric cars to store and feed power back into the grid when needed (and, most important when it comes to human behavior, make the owner money).

This story explains how it all works, and it sounds pretty promising (though, of course, car manufacturers are resisting):

For 15 years, [Willett] Kempton, who directs the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, has pushed the idea that fleets of electric vehicles — rather than being another big draw on the electric grid — could provide valuable backup power on demand to utilities. This would reduce the need for costly new generating plants, and help ensure a reliable supply of electricity.

Utilities pay each other billions of dollars a year for such backup power through wholesale electricity markets, and Kempton believes that a hefty slice of that pie could be paid to electric-vehicle owners instead. Some industry analysts agree that the approach, known as “vehicle-to-grid,” could take off; a December 2010 report from the business research firm Global Data conservatively projected a global market for vehicle-to-grid that would pay $2.3 billion to electric vehicle owners by 2012 — and $40 billion by 2020.

Kempton, according to the story, earns $300 a month with his car, a Scion xB, which makes me want to re-think my car ownership.

Cars did an awful lot to help create our mess. This is a perfect example of how technology can be transformative.

Here’s a bit more on the idea, from DiscoveryNetworks:

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