Today’s hybrid electric-gasoline cars, such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, have been on the market for a decade and are gaining in popularity as they save on gas consumption.
However, enhanced versions called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) could also help reduce carbon emissions from the transport fleet by using low-cost, low-emission electricity from the national grid instead of fossil fuels.
The potential benefits of plug-in vehicles include:
— Substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions in the transport sector as a result of using nuclear energy and other carbon-free power sources to charge the cars
— Reduced dependence on imported fossil fuels, with their price volatility and supply instabilities. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers claims that plug-ins “could reduce the consumption of liquid fuels by at least 70 percent compared with conventional cars”
— Clean air benefits from the reduction in emissions of such organic compounds as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ground ozone and particulates.
Green benefits certainly depend on greater development of low-carbon sources of power on the grid. Recent research concludes that a low-carbon electricity system will yield the most greenhouse gas reductions in conjunction with a substantial plug-in fleet. Nuclear energy, with its clean, low-carbon, high-reliability baseload availability, is an ideal source of electricity for this use.