It’s your LegoLand building-block fantasy come to life. When the twisted tower in this rendering is completed in Dubai in 2010, each of its 80 floors will rotate independently around a central column that will house its elevator shafts, stairwells, and utilities. Sections of each floor, complete with cabinets, electrical wiring, and bathroom fixtures, will be preassembled off-site, hoisted up, and hung, intact, on the central column. In the gaps between each floor, wind turbines will spin; these and solar panels on the edges of each floor’s partially exposed roof will generate enough power to make the 420-meter-high rotating skyscraper independent of the energy grid. The curvy, statuesque beauty will house offices, a luxury hotel, apartments, and a few full-floor villas with space enough for residents to park their cars safely inside.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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