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Recent newsworthy wide-area electrical blackouts have raised many questions about the specifics of such events and the vulnerability of interconnected power systems when operated outside of their intended design limits.

Exchange of information stemming from worldwide blackout findings, restorative efforts, and innovations in technology shed new light on the current conditions, procedures, regulations, and design of power systems. Examination of the root causes, the resulting effects on neighboring systems, and implementation of proven solutions to help prevent propagation of such large-scale events should help us design reliable power delivery infrastructures for today and in the future. Armed with this detailed and fresh prospective, power industry professionals can consider the costly lessons of the past, maintain a library of historical lessons about "What and why it happened?" for generations to come, and act as catalysts to help design or revise power systems to a heightened reliability.

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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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