IMAGE: ELECTRIC CAR NEXT TO WIND TURBINES
Project Better Place
Project Better Place positioned its prototype electric vehicle next to these wind turbines in Denmark as it unveiled plans for a wind-powered network on Thursday.
updated 3/27/2008 4:33:12 PM ET 2008-03-27T20:33:12

Denmark's DONG Energy A/S and a Silicon Valley-based startup firm said Thursday they would install an electric car network that includes about 20,000 recharging stations in the Scandinavian nation.

The grid, expected to be ready by 2011, will be operated by Project Better Place, an initiative by Israeli-American entrepreneur Shai Agassi, using excess power from DONG Energy's wind turbines.

A fleet of battery-driven electrical vehicles will be introduced in Denmark after the recharging stations are built at parking lots and outside homes, Agassi said.

French car maker Renault will provide the vehicles and Japan's Nissan will make the lithium-ion batteries under a partnership with Project Better Place announced earlier this year. Agassi said other car makers and battery producers would join the project later.

The battery would allow a car to drive a maximum of 150 kilometers (90 miles) before recharging, he said, adding that he expects the network to expand to other European countries soon.

"We're in discussion with 30 countries — Europe, America and Asian nations," he told The Associated Press after a news conference in Copenhagen.

A similar network is being built in Israel.

When Israel's network was endorsed by the government there in January, supporters hailed it as a bold step in the battle against global warming and energy dependency, but skeptics warned that much could still go wrong.

DONG Energy chief executive Anders Eldrup told reporters that the grid would run on excess energy that its wind turbines generate on windy days. Windmills make up around 20 percent of Denmark's electricity production.

"The extra energy we have, we can use in an intelligent way by putting it in batteries," Eldrup told reporters.

However, on days with no wind the grid would need to use energy from DONG's coal-fired plants, he said, adding that it would still be more environmentally friendly than having cars running on gasoline.

"The cars' CO2 emission would still be half of what it is today with fossil fuels," Eldrup said.

DONG Energy operates some of the thousands of windmills that dot Denmark, a country of 5.4 million. The small Scandinavian nation began a national windmill program in 1979 under pressure from organizations demanding new sources of electricity that have less of an effect on the environment than conventional plants.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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