Ontario Quits Coal

In the province's energy plans, Kyoto looms large

4 min read

Although most industrialized nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol—which requires them, by 2012, to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to levels below what emissions were in 1990—many key signatories have yet to curb growth in energy consumption, making it hard or impossible to cut their emissions. Canada, for one, is so far out of compliance that it is even further from controlling its emissions than is the United States, which has been roundly condemned in Europe for refusing to accept the terms of the treaty. With just six years remaining before the Kyoto deadline, when Canada’s emissions are supposed to be 6 percent below 1990 levels, they are at present nearly 27 percent higher.

The challenges facing Canada are most acute in Ontario, the province with the greatest population (12.6 million) and economic power (US $444 billion gross domestic product, or roughly half that of New York state). Ontario needs to increase local ­electricity-­generating capacity in order to stay ahead of demand that is increasing at an average annual rate approaching 1 percent and to reverse a growing (and costly) dependence on electricity imported from neighbors such as Quebec and New York.

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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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