The widespread use of plug-in hybrid vehicles — which could be driven up to 40 miles on electric power alone — would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States without overloading the nation’s power grid, according to a new study.
The study, “Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles,” is by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council (whose new blog is the oddly-named Switchboard). Here’s a key chart:
Here are some more details on the study’s conclusions:
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.