Here's some good news on cars. Really. According to a new report, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), if widely adopted, could significantly reduce the country's contribution of carbon emissions. The study was done by scientists at the Electric Power Research Institute - a utility funded think tank - and the Natural Resource Defense Council. From a San Francisco Chronicle article:
The study found that if 60 percent of Americans shifted to plug-in hybrids by 2050, it would lead to an increase in electricity usage of 7 to 8 percent -- a relatively small increase, indicating that hybrids would not necessarily require a surge of new power plant construction. Plug-in hybrids are charged mostly at night, when demand for electricity is low.
At the same time, the report estimates that electric hybrids would displace the need for 3 million to 4 million barrels of oil per day by 2050, more than twice what the United States imports each day from Saudi Arabia.
Researchers also found that plug-in hybrids reduced greenhouse gases no matter what energy source was used to produce the electricity, whether coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind or solar. Electric hybrids generated 40 to 65 percent less greenhouse gas than gas-fueled vehicles and 7 to 46 percent less than conventional hybrids.
Let's just hope we don't all end up calling them "PHEVS." "Did you see my new PHEV? It's sweet, dude."