This is an incredibly cool technology. If we bothered to look at our oil canary, we would realize that the poor little bird is darn near dead.
Here is how it works. Hybrid cars use electrical energy for most short trips. That electrical energy is generated by the vehicles engine, which is only used when needed, thus making it a more efficient vehicle. The reality is, however, that, even during normal use, the engine can generate more electricity than the vehicle actually needs. And thus we arrive at the wonder of V2G (vehicle to grid) technology.
Here, the excess electricity that has been generated by the engine can be piped back to the electrical grid and sold back to the power company at a certain rate. This is a very fledgling technology. To my knowledge, there are only a couple vehicles that are capable of selling the electricity back to the grid, and, of course, only a few grids that can accept it. The implications for this technology, however, are amazing. From the above article:
But if automakers were to make 1 million next-generation V2G vehicles by 2020, they could generate up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity - about the capacity of 20 average-size power plants, according to a 2001 study by AC Propulsion, the electric vehicle maker in San Dimas, Calif., that created the V2G Jetta.
That's a lot of electricity. It is what would call an elegant solution - one that takes advantage of work that we are already doing and helps everyone involved. Here's a little diagram about how the system works (which, admittedly, makes the solution look a little less elegant):
As far as I can tell, you drive your red VW bug, which is equipped with a GPS system and some wireless transmitter, to a terminal of some sort, to connect your vehicle to the power grid. An onboard system monitors how much energy you've sold to the grid and transmits this information wirelessly to the aggregator, via the internet. This aggregator communicates, again, via the internet with your personal account, to determine your settings and preferences, then either credits your account or lobs money into your sunroof via a long, parabolic, green arrow. I guess it is pretty elegant.