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Energy & Climate: All Talk, No Action?

Europe's made significant progress regarding global warming, but not toward energy independence

1 min read
Energy & Climate: All Talk, No Action?
Sources: Greenhouse-gas emissions: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data, detailed by party

Total carbon dioxide emissions for BRIC countries: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Oil imports: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2010

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Even if you regard energy independence as absurd and global warming a hoax, you can be sure that reducing fossil fuel imports and cutting greenhouse-gas emissions will long be twin guideposts to policy and investment decisions. So it seems sensible to take stock of how the advanced industrial countries have been doing. Here's what the latest available numbers show:

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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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