Wind Powered PHEVs

Wind Power + Electric Drive = Zero Emissions

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted January 17, 2008

Relaxed in a large armchair at a recent conference in Anaheim, Ca., oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens with his heavy Texan drawl likened the U.S.’s energy crisis to a Greek legend and made an argument for wind power.

In “The Sword of Damocles,” the ruling tyrant, Dionysus, lived a posh life with servants hired for flattery.

Damocles, one of Dionysus’ entourage, laid on the praise with a heavy hand. He prattled on and on about how wonderful it must be to have so much power and wealth.

Dionysus said, “Have at it, hoss, just for a day.”

Damocles lounged in Dionysus’ chaise, popping grapes and enjoying a gentle breeze from the palm-frond flapping concubines.

All seemed well, but when he looked up he saw a razor sharp sword glistening above his head, held by a single horse hair.

Quite disturbed, he turned to Dionysus, who explained that the feeling of power would not be complete without the ever-present risk of falling from it.

The moral from Pickens’s perspective is, the more you have, the more there is to lose, and the more people want to take it from you.

And right now the same proverbial sword is dangling right over America, and the single thread that is keeping it from taking off one of our ears is our ever-thinning supply of energy.

As a nation we consume 25% of the world’s oil and produce a quarter of the planet’s greenhouse gases, yet we constitute just five percent of the population. Sounds like a gluttonous ruler, eh?

Well, that’s exactly the way Mr. Pickens sees it.

Even though he’s made over $2.5 billion in oil during his life, he knows we must switch to alternatives if we ever want to sheath that sword.

And what he proposes we do is distribute our energy needs among different alternative resources and get hostile oil and gas supplying countries off our back.

As a matter of fact, Pickens is so gung-ho about alternative energy he’s putting $6 billion in a wind farm in his home state.

Wind Power for a Million Homes

Covering 200,000 acres across four Texas panhandle counties, his 2,000 windmills will generate 4,000 megawatts, or as much power as two Comanche Peak nuclear plants.

According to American Wind Energy Association’s spokeswoman, Susan Williams Sloan, one megawatt is enough power to supply 250 Texan homes.

That means this wind farm will produce enough power to keep one million homes wired.

In spite of those impressive figures, some people still have it in their heads that wind energy will never work, even though . . .

  • The U.S. Department of Energy says, “Harnessing wind power is the fastest growing technology in the world.”
  • For the past five years the wind power industry has grown 28% every year, and is projected to double every three years.
  • 50 countries are currently installing turbines.

That’s not to say wind power doesn’t have its drawbacks. One of the major hurdles to overcome is creating storage capacity for unused electricity during off peak hours—that’s when cars with large battery packs, like plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) or electric vehicles (EV), become an invaluable technology.The reason for this is that during the night, when electrical consumption goes down (off peak hours) a coal-fired plant can reduce electrical output to match the intake.

Just because Sally remembered to turn off her kitchen lights before retiring to bed doesn’t mean that wind is going to stop blowing, but if she remembered to recharge her PHEV, then switch it to Vehicle to Grid mode (V2G), her car’s battery will be a cache of extra, unused electricity and she could sell it back to the utility during surges in demand.

Currently V2G technology is only offered by Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE: PCG )—now testing 300 PHEVs on their V2G systems—and PJM, which operates across 13 states including Delaware, where researchers at the University of Delaware are advancing V2G technology.

“When I get home, I’ll charge up and then switch into V2G mode,” said Willett Kempton, UD associate professor of marine policy and a V2G innovator for the past ten years.

Kempton believes that utilities could be looking at $4,000 a year from a single V2G car, part of which could be paid to drivers.

Just think about it . . . most cars drive only an hour a day, the rest of the time they’re sitting around as nothing more than a gas can with wheels. Throw in some lithium ion batteries and for the other 95% of the time you have a generator that can not only power your house during blackouts, it can also make you money.

Not to mention, with wind-generated electricity powering these vehicles, there would be absolutely no emissions in most daily commutes.

Stay tuned to Green Chip Stocks for more updates on V2G and the battery companies that are going to make it happen . . .

Keep your hopes in the future but your sense in the present,

Field Palmer