Sins Of Transmission?

Vatican Radio's high-power antennas stand accused of causing cancer

6 min read

The view is impressive, if strange. A forest of about two dozen huge towers supports an intricate web of antenna wires that together pump many hundreds of kilowatts into the atmosphere from a site 25 kilometers north of Rome. The antennas are the Vatican's portal to the world: signals from two medium-wave transmitters reach all of Italy at all times, while those from 27 shortwave antennas are beamed at selected parts of the world in different languages at varying times. (Only two of the shortwave antennas transmit at any given time.) Thus, papal speeches, news programs, and religious events are dispatched in 40 languages to all the corners of the world, making this complex as important to the Vatican as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe were to the United States at the height of the Cold War.

But to the inhabitants of Cesano and neighboring communities, the antennas, some transmitting at an effective 600 kilowatts, represent not only a blight on the landscape and something of a nuisance--hearing the Pope's voice picked up by your front-door intercom is not always appreciated--but also a possible health threat [see photo, " Radio Spikes"].

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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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