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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.

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  • DJ

    “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).”

    That’s an absolutely astounding figure! Think about it: more than half the energy produced never gets used at all. Half of the remainder gets used ineffectively or unproductively. That means fully 3/4 of the energy we produce gets wasted!

    Currently, only 6% of the U.S. total energy, and about 10% of our electricity, comes from renewable sources. But if we cut out the waste, renewables could account for 24% of the total and 40% of electric.

    In addition, our CO2 emissions would drop from 21 tons per person per year to about 5 tons per person– very nearly a sustainable level.

    So much for the theory that conservation alone won’t solve our problems. We just need to broaden the concept.