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U.S. Climate Technology Plan

White House task force gets credit for talking a good game

4 min read

On 20 September, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Climate Change Technology Strategic Program Plan, a 243-page report that evaluates prospects for all relevant ­greenhouse-gas mitigation technologies and identifies the various sources of ­government support for development of the technologies. The climate technology road map has its genesis in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the United States signed and ratified, though it declined to go along with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the treaty [see sidebar, "California and Kyoto"]. Consistent with the treaty’s commitment to preventing what it calls ”dangerous” climate change, in 2002 President Bush created the cabinet-level Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration. That committee then drew up a ­science research program, which was published in mid-2003, and a technology plan, which was supposed to be published at the same time but was considerably delayed.

The U.S. climate technology plan represents the first time that federal spending on greenhouse-­mitigation technology has been detailed and ­combined into a complete plan. Stephen Eule, director of the climate change technology program at the DOE, told the House Government Reform Committee on 21 September that pursuing the plan will accomplish the goal President Bush established in 2002: reducing the greenhouse gas ­intensity--that is, emissions per unit of economic output--of the U.S. economy by 18 ­percent by 2012. ”Although we are only a few years into the effort, the nation appears on track to meet the president’s goal,” Eule said.

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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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