Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wind Power: Danes Innovating Their Way Around Key Barriers

Grist and PBS report on how the Danes are getting around one of the key barriers to wind power:

The Danes are now hard at work cracking one of the great challenges of wind power: the fact that the wind blows when it darn well pleases.  Sometimes it blows hard when there isn’t much need for the resulting electricity.  Sometimes the air is becalmed when electricity is needed the most.

Wouldn’t it be nice if households in Denmark had nice batteries to store the wind power coming off the country’s wind farms?

Denmark’s plan is to get those batteries into households using a Trojan horse strategy.  The batteries will be mounted on four tires.  If lots of Danish people switch from gasoline cars to all-electric plug in cars, each of those cars will have a nice set of batteries that can suck in wind power when the wind blows and use the power whenever there is a need to drive somewhere.

If this tactic of sneaking batteries disguised as new cars into Danish garages is to work, the electric car has to become a mass market item. For that, two big things have to happen. First, electric cars have to be capable of driving longer distances.  To do that, a California company, Better Place, has come up with pit stops equipped with robots that will quickly swap out depleted batteries for charged ones.

Second, for electric cars to become widespread, they need to be comparatively cheap. The Danish government is pulling that off by making new electric cars exempt from a huge (180 percent!) environmental tax that applies to gas cars.

If all goes well, Danish roads could be swarming with mainly Renault-Nissan electric cars in a couple of years (Better Place has a strategic partnership with the carmaker).  If all goes especially well, Denmark could eventually end the import of oil, courtesy of the wind.

This all sounds good to me -- it's wonderful to watch as the solutions to our fossil fuel dependence come from all around the world.

That said, it's also painful to watch as countries around the world take bolder steps than we are here in America to get ourselves off of our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels, and to help solve climate change.

Let's go U.S. Senate -- pass the Kerry/Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act!  Folks in swing states, especially, please call your Senators and ask them support and strengthen the bill: 202-224-3121.

Read the full Grist article>>

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