Obama on smart grids and plug-in hybrids

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In a recent interview, Barack Obama talked about the national deficit that the Bush Administration has run up over the last eight years and how little, in his view, the nation has to show for it. He compared America’s aging infrastructure with that of China which, in contrast, has invested heavily in its own from new port facilities to the equivalent of a national interstate highway system.

Now that he has been elected President of the United States of America, he will focus on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, including the construction of a “smart grid” to get wind power from places like North Dakota to metropolitan areas like Chicago.

Demonstrating his grasp of state-of-the-art electric vehicle technology, he explained that if America is going to make greater use of renewable energy like wind power, it will need a “smart” power grid that will enable owners of plug-in hybrids to sell the power in their car’s battery pack back to their local utility. Such a grid will make it more difficult for groups like al-Qaeda to attack America economically.

The concept of electric car owners selling power back to their utility is called vehicleto- grid (V2G) where cars that are charged at off-peak times during the night can share any excess power stored in their batteries with the grid, in effect creating a vast, mobile energy storage system that can help stabilise power quality and shave peak loads during the afternoon. Research has shown that such a system would enable the American power grid to shift as much as 50% of its energy to non-dispatchable and intermittent sources like wind and solar power.

Power companies from California to Texas to Delaware have been investigating the feasibility of V2G technology, which could some day turn electric cars into capital assets for their owners.

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