California utility Pacific Gas & Electric previews future energy grid

Pacific Gas & Electric's Hal LaFlash recently sat down with Todd Woody of Green Wombat and Business 2.0 a preview of some of the new-tech and green-tech changes we can expect to see in California and the rest of the country. Here's the list:

  • Solar stations - Large-scale plants using new thermal and photovoltaic technologies will operate in Southern California and the desert Southwest.
  • Solar buildings - As solar cells are integrated into rooftops, walls, and windows, homes and office towers will become miniature power stations, generating their own electricity and feeding excess power back into the grid.
  • Wind power - Anywhere the wind blows is a potential site for a turbine, but the Great Plains is the place utilities are eying for giant wind farms.
  • Wave power - PG&E is looking at the Northern California coast for potential sites for wave energy generators. The Northeast coast is another prime source of as-yet-untapped wave power.
  • Cow power - California has 1.7 million cows and more than 2,000 dairies. A dozen dairies have already installed methane digesters to turn cow manure - a source of one of the most destructive greenhouse gases - into electricity. The digester extracts methane gas from cow poop and uses it to power an electricity-generating turbine. Other dairies have plans to produce a bovine biogas that will be piped to power plants.
  • Car power - PG&E is developing technology that will allow future "plug-in" hybrid vehicles not only to recharge their batteries but also to feed electricity back into the power grid during peak demand.
  • Clean-coal plants - Located mainly in the East and Midwest, these plants will gasify coal, stripping it of pollutants. Carbon dioxide will be captured before it can be released into the atmosphere.
  • Smart grids - Interactive power grids will communicate with smart agents embedded in household appliances, allowing power to be distributed where it is needed most.

I was intrigued by a few of these technologies, notably vehicle-to-grid. Wouldn't it be nice to hear news stories talking about the automotive impact on the environment in a positive way?

[Source Business 2.0 via Tree Hugger]

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