With electric vehicles looking more and more like the way forward, some critics have begun raising concerns over a series of potential problems that may arise.
They’re questioning whether a strained and aging electric grid can handle the impending surge in power demands while some are even claiming that the transition to EVs would actually lead to more pollution since much of this electrical power is generated though the burning of coal, another dirty fossil fuel.
As much as proponents of the technology would hate to admit it, these purported consequences are quite legitimate and widely substantiated. For instance, companies have been forced to resort to activating expensive “peaker plants” during intervals of high demands, a problem that can be exacerbated with the arrival of energy-hungry plug-in vehicles. And with as much as half of the grid’s electricity coming from coal, more electric cars can mean more coal plants being constructed to meet growing demand.
But that doesn’t mean we’re locked into these less-than-ideal scenarios. With a little ingenuity, there may soon be more options for renewable sources of electricity.
One novel technology that power giant General Electric is piloting, the Sanya Skypump, adds renewables in the mix by offering solar and wind-powered recharging. The company just announced that it’s partner in the project, Urban Green Energy, will be installing the first stations starting this fall in New York, Beijing, and Barcelona in preparation for a planned worldwide roll-out in early 2012.
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If the Skypump looks familiar, that’s because the station is a technological cross between GE’s WattStation and UGE’s Sanya hybrid wind/solar streetlamp, which enables it to function similarly to other plug-in charging stations except it uses a combination of a wind turbine and solar panels to harness energy and convert it into readily usable electricity. It’s designed to easily integrate into upcoming construction projects and can be installed in the garage or outside, as well as retrofitted into existing homes. Charging takes four to eight hours and although the hybrid solar and wind power technology won’t be enough to offer 100 percent renewable energy, GE Product Manager Michael Mahan says that it will at the very least “offset a significant amount of the usage of a commercial charging site.”
While it’ll take a lot more than something like the Skypump to quiet the naysayers, the technology does demonstrate that, with a lot of innovation still to be had on all fronts, a clean energy future is very much in the cards.
(via Press Release)
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