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On 12 March, Water Standard Co., an international company with offices in Texas, announced that it had secured a commitment of US $250 million to build and operate ships that would desalinate seawater and pump it to cities in need. Two international New York City�based investment funds are backing Water Standard with the equity investment, and CEO Amanda Brock says the first prototype vessels should sail out of shipyards in 2009.

According to Brock, the proposed vessels are more energy efficient and better for the environment than traditional shore-based desalination plants. Like their onshore counterparts, Water Standard's vessels will use a membrane-based desalination treatment called reverse osmosis. But unlike shore-based plants, the vessels do not have to expend much energy to draw in seawater--they sit right on the water--and they discharge the diluted concentrate.

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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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