Prius powers home during blackout

John Sweeney ran his fridge, freezer, wood stove fan and even his television and lights using his Prius for three days while the power was out in his town. By using an inverter to convert the car’s DC power supply into household AC, Sweeney was able to generate 120 volts.

And he only used five gallons of gas to do it.

This is a glimmer of what a smart grid could be. Stored energy feeding back into the grid or to wherever it is needed.

The grid we have now is appallingly wasteful.

Much of the energy we generate is wasted in the process of generation or transmission (56.2%, here in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration). As I understand it, by wasted we don’t mean that it’s used, but not used effectively. We mean that it is not used at all. It is the current dumped into the ground by power plants whose generation exceeds demand and other generated energy that accomplishes no task.

Imagine how much money, energy, and emissions we would save if we just used what we generated and the grid was smart.