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Cap and Trade or Cap and Tax?

Can “cap and tax” help President Obama’s ambitious US $150 billion energy plan succeed?

3 min read
photo of factory with U.S. flag displayed
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Whenever oil and gas prices plummet, renewable energy projects tend to hit the skids, because the economic incentive to develop these new technologies simply disappears. Low prices bring on the Hummers; high prices have consumers clamoring for Toyota Priuses.

The current global economic crisis has consumers wanting neither. So U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for ways to kick the economy, and renewable energy development, into gear.

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This Dutch City Is Road-Testing Vehicle-to-Grid Tech

Utrecht leads the world in using EVs for grid storage

10 min read
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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