NOW Schedule About
Enterprising Ideas - Social Entrepreneurs at Work
Home Stories Project Enterprise Get Involved Blog What is a Social Entrepreneur For Educators

Electric Car Dreams

Project Name: Better Place
Challenge: Reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by switching to wind power.
Solution: Store excess wind energy in lithium-ion batteries, and use those batteries to power a new fleet of electric cars.

NOW traveled to Denmark to see how the country's government-owned energy company is combatting global warming.

Currently Denmark is 85% powered by fossil fuel, and 15% powered by renewable energy, but the country's goal is to reverse this within a generation. Denmark is a world leader in wind energy. It already has many wind farms, and is building more. However, the problem with wind power is that it's erratic: sometimes there's too much wind, yet at other times, there's not enough.

To solve this, Denmark is partnering with American entrepreneur Shai Agassi and his company Better Place with a plan to build an infrastructure for electric cars. The infrastructure will include charging points at residences and places of business. The Better Place cars, which are being designed by the Renault Nissan Alliance, will have a range of around 100 miles. For longer journeys Better Place has designed a network of battery swapping stations where a robot will swap out the used battery and replace it with a new one, all in about 40 seconds.

Most of the car charging will be done at night, when the wind is at its strongest. This will allow that excess energy to be stored in the car batteries. At times when there isn't enough wind energy, the grid will be able to draw power from the cars that aren't being used, allowing the country to significantly reduce its coal consumption.

Better Place is increasing its global reach and has agreements with Israel, Australia, Japan, Canada and Hawaii.

Electric Car Dreams
Video: Electric Car Dreams

  » Learn More

Electric Car Timeline
The life, death and rebirth of the electric car.

Interview: Alexandra Paul and her Electric Car
The former "Baywatch" star talks about her passion for electric cars.

Enterprising Ideas is a project of NOW on PBS, with support from:

PBS Foundation
Skoll Foundation