There is enough idle electrical capacity in the United States’ grid to power all the cars and light trucks in the country, if everyone switched to plug-in hybrid-electric cars. Sure, the power would still be generated by fossil-fuel burning plants, but would be used with a higher overall efficiency and lower overall emissions, the studies’ authors claim. [treehugger]
2 thoughts on “Switching From Gas To… Gas?”
If there’s that much spare capacity in the current system, why are all the power companies complaining that they need to build more plants to meet the growing demand? I’m really asking, not just making a cynical remark about power companies. I figure Futurismic has some readers who might know if it’s possible to find a way to use the capacity we’ve currently got more efficiently. Is this another battery issue — if we had better batteries, could we recharge other devices at off-peak so they could run off battery at peak use times? Is there a way to move that capacity across the country? In other words, is there a way to improve our use of the power we’ve already got? Electric cars aren’t going to readily available anytime soon, but some cities are screaming power crisis right now.
Nancy, you’ve got it right — the problem is that even though we’ve got spare electricity during off-peak hours (mainly at night), there’s no one awake to use it and no way to store it. Storing it (and all the untapped nighttime wind power) in car batteries is good in two ways. It helps get cars off of gasoline; driving on gasoline creates more greenhouse gases than driving on our current 50%-coal U.S. grid. And with vehicle-to-grid technology, we can pull that nighttime power back out of the cars when needed during peak demand hours, leaving enough in the car for the commuter to get home, or whatever. The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates that plug-in cars with vehicle-to-grid capability will increase our access to wind power by a factor of three. For more on all this, see my new book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America (New Society Publishers, November 2006), available on my website (www.sherryboschert.com) and in all the usual places. — Sherry
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