Japan Faces Post-Fukushima Power Struggle

Crisis transforms renewable energy bill into an antinuclear symbol

3 min read

On the morning of 11 March 2011, Japan's cabinet forwarded a bill to parliament (known as the Diet) that would modestly expand support for renewable energy. A few hours later, an earthquake struck northeastern Japan. The tsunami and nuclear crisis it unleashed transformed that noncontroversial piece of legislation into a vanguard of efforts to radically redraw Japan's energy policy.

"This renewable energy law is a symbol of energy policy change. It is indispensable," says Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and a long-time critic of nuclear power.

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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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