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Privacy on the Smart Grid

Are smart meters spies? They don’t have to be

4 min read
Privacy on the Smart Grid

Smart Grid Private

Illustration: Mark Montgomery

5 October 2010—Back in 2007, when the Dutch government announced that all 7 million homes in the Netherlands would be equipped with smart meters by 2013, it anticipated little resistance. After all, who wouldn’t welcome a device that could save both energy and money? But consumers worried that such intelligent monitoring devices, which transmit power-usage information to the utility as frequently as every 15 minutes, would make them vulnerable to thieves, annoying marketers, and police investigations. They spoke out so strongly against these “espionage meters” that the government made them optional.

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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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