Scientists have urged for the development of low-carbon electricity to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which could help reduce greenhouse emissions that fuel global warming.
As mentioned by Carnegie Mellon University's Constantine Samaras and Kyle Meisterling in a recent article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, federal legislators and the electricity industry need to increase the deployment of low-carbon electricity technology to power plug-in hybrid vehicles.
According to Samaras, "Plug-in hybrids represent an opportunity to reduce oil consumption, leverage next-generation biofuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
"The types of power plants installed in the next two decades will not only affect how much we can reduce emissions from electricity, but also from vehicles if we plan on plug-in hybrids playing a substantial role," he said.
What the researchers have found is that even when the impacts from producing batteries are included, plug-in hybrids still produce slightly less greenhouse gases than hybrids that run only on gasoline.
"But plug-in hybrids could cut emissions in half if they are charged with electricity from low-carbon sources," said Meisterling.
Samaras and Meisterling have also determined that plug-ins may allow greater use of the limited supply of biofuels because they use a lot less gasoline than regular cars.
The researchers found that life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from plug-in hybrids are about one-third less than a traditional gasoline-powered car. They have also said that with coal-fired electricity, emissions from plug-in hybrids are still lower than traditional cars, but are higher than ordinary hybrids.
The call for increased low-carbon electricity supplies comes at a time when the US electricity industry plans to build 154 new coal plants in the next 24 years to replace older plants being phased out.
"The type of power plants we build today will be around for a long time. We need to begin developing policies that allow us to make big dents in oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions," said Samaras.