Norway Is An Electric Car Leader….

…And it is an inspiring story of what can happen when incentives change, and then a culture changes:

It still has some way to go, but the country looks on course to meet a government target – set in 2016, with full cross-party parliamentary support – of phasing out the sale of all new fossil-fuel based cars and light commercial vehicles by 2025.

“It’s actually quite amazing how fast the mindset’s changed,” said Christina Bu of the Norwegian EV Electric Vehicle Association. “Even in 2013 or 2014, people were sceptical. Now, a majority of Norwegians will say: my next car will be electric.”

But I couldn’t help noticing with all Norway’s efforts, EVs are still only 10% of the passenger fleet. So Norway’s success is also a warning about how hard it is to make this sort of transition and how important it is to start yesterday.

Nightly Reader: Oct. 22, 2012

Links to to ponder (or sleep on)…

Counterintuitive: Are electric cars worse for the environment than gas cars?

Two-Fer: I unburden myself of interesting links by handing you off to Mark Bittman unburdening himself of interesting links.

Mark Bittman Links

Alternate Reality: Planet Money assembles a spectrum of economists to craft a bipartisan tax reform plan that makes economic sense. They do. It’s really good. And almost none of it will ever get passed. But here is how it would be pitched:

Electric Car = Personal Power Station?

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: