Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid
Denmark is one of the more progressive countries in the world where renewable energy is concerned. They've already partnered with Better Place and Nissan to build a charging infrastructure in support of widespread adoption of electric vehicles. They currently meet 20% of their energy needs with wind. Now the Danes will tie those two concepts together with a "vehicle-to-grid" experiment.
Denmark's wind turbines could provide 40% of their required power, if not for nature's unpredictability. If all of the turbines were operational at all times, strong winds could overload the electricity grid. So the Danes turn off some of the turbines, forfeiting significant amounts of free wind energy.
Enter the electric car. IBM is currently making software for the Danish grid that will allow electric car batteries to store the excess power generated by strong winds. When the energy is required, it can be fed back into the grid from the vehicles. Researchers contributing to the "Edison" Project believe that Denmark can provide for half of its nation's electricity needs with the proposed system. (Edison is short for "Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated Market using Sustainable Energy and Open Networks." Hold on to your saliva, folks.)
A project of this type and scale has never been attempted before, so the costs, benefits and impacts to the EV batteries are all wild cards. Still, it's this kind of innovation that could revolutionize the way we think about energy. Isn't that what Edison did the first time?