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Gulf Power Plants Keep Close Watch on Oil Spill

Seawater-reliant power plants on the Gulf Coast prepare to protect their cooling sources

2 min read

26 May 2010—As oil from the massive Deepwater Horizon slick in the Gulf of Mexico laps at Louisiana’s shores and tar balls wash up on beaches in the Florida Keys, saltwater-dependent power plants on the Gulf Coast prepare for the worst.

”We’ve been monitoring the spill since it began,” says Suzanne Grant, a spokesperson for Progress Energy Florida, which runs four power plants on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Three of the plants pump in water from the Gulf to cool their turbines. ”The good news is that forecast models continue to indicate it’s highly unlikely the slick will reach our coastal plants, but we’re putting an action plan in place just in case,” Grant says.

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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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