By now it’s common knowledge that Texas is poised to transition from the fossil fuel economy into wind power (to say nothing of solar power), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that wind powered cars are making their first U.S. appearance in the Lone Star State, courtesy of the alternative energy leader Green Mountain Energy. The company has just introduced a new “electricity product” for residential use, which makes wind power available to anyone who pays a home electricity bill and owns an electric vehicle.
Wind Power without a Home Wind Turbine
Of course, a wind-powered car could be available to anyone with a micro wind turbine and an electric vehicle, but that is a rather limited field at least for now. Green Mountain opens up the wind-powered car market to far more consumers. If you’re familiar with home electricity plans that let you designate wind power or other clean energy as your sources (often for a small surcharge), that’s the basic idea. You don’t get a special transmission line from the nearest wind farm straight to your home – your electricity is still coming from whatever mix your grid supplies - but by designating this kind of plan you draw more clean energy into the market, and you can sign up for enough clean energy to cover your average usage. In this regard EVs are just like any other home appliance, so if you factor them into your clean energy plan then you’ve got an instant wind-powered car (or solar, or whatever).
The Pollution Free Electric Vehicle
Green Mountain calls its plan Pollution Free EV, and it has partnered with an EV charging station company called eVgo to provide the wind-powered car service. Customers of Pollution Free EV get a home charging station installed by eVgo, and Green Mountain provides electricity generated from 100 percent wind power. Customers also get to use eVgo’s charging station network for a monthly rate.
The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Powered Cars
In the same sense that Pollution Free EV enables you to have a wind-powered car, then you could also have a car powered by any other source that feeds your grid. Well that’s possible in theory, but in reality it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to pay a small surcharge just so they can say that their EV is powered by nuclear energy. Speaking of nuclear energy, in an interesting twist the parent company of eVgo is the energy giant NRG, which has just dropped out of a deal to build two new nuclear reactors in Texas. The company cites the chief reason as regulatory uncertainty following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, but a Texas-sized surplus of wind power in Texas may have also played a role in NRG’s sudden disinterest in nuclear energy.
Image: Texas flag by
- Wind Power Beats Nuclear Power in Texas (cleantechnica.com)
- Projected Wind Power Growth (Worldwide) (cleantechnica.com)
- Massive Cape Wind Project Takes Giant Step Forward (cleantechnica.com)
- Installed Wind Power Capacity per Capita (Country Comparisons) (cleantechnica.com)
- Nature Conservancy Finds Common Ground for Wind Power and Wildlife (cleantechnica.com)
- Smarter Uses for Displaced Wind Energy (cleantechnica.com)
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.