Of electric cars and lawn mowers too

Just two bits of news round up. First, as reported by Triple Pundit and the New York Times, Google and PG&E are working together on plug-in hybrids that can store electricity from the grid and then sell it back. It's an interesting idea. Spinning reserve--power plants kept running but not generating power just in case--and peaking power is expensive and often very polluting. On the other hand, electricity generated from a gasoline powered ICE is also very polluting at least from a global warming perspective. So it's not at all clear to me that if a plug-in ended up dumping all of it's electricity back into the grid and then having to run its own engine to get the driver home that it would be good for the environment. I look forward to seeing the study.

Second, and connected only tenuously through the notion of replacing ICEs with electric power, Wired reports on its test of a bunch of electric mowers. As the article points out, gasoline powered mowers are incredibly polluting. But my dad is the ultimate proponent of all electric yard equipment and it's not because of the reduced air pollution (though he certainly cares about that too). No, the big selling point for electric yard equipment for people like my dad is that they're quiet. And the fact that when you're done with your mowing all you smell is the sweet scent of cut grass and no noxious fumes, well, that's just the trimmings, so to speak.

About the Authors

Nathanael Greene

Senior Renewable Energy Advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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