bitguru blog

a guru of bits, or just a bit player?

Hybrid cars will fell the sky!

Posted by bitguru on March 12, 2008

Two articles appeared today that project the resources that will be consumed by hybrid cars. The headline in the Science Daily is “Hybrid Cars May Require Hundreds Of New Power Plants To Be Built,” while headline in the Economic Times is “Hybrid cars will spare petrol but guzzle water.”

The problem is that neither of these articles are actually about hybrid cars, in the sense that every hybrid car manufactured by Toyota, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Lexus, Mercury, Saturn, Chevrolet, GMC, and Dodge is fueled completely by gas. You couldn’t plug them in even if you wanted to, so they place zero extra demand on the power grid.

Both articles are actually talking about plug-in hybrid vehicles, which aren’t being made yet (except experimentally) but might be some day. If they ever catch on, they will indeed pull power from the grid. To that end, studies of their resource implications are a good idea. I just wish they were presented in a less alarmist manner.

In its second paragraph the Science Daily article says that the “study examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the power grid.” Not until the fifth paragraph does it clarify that it is an “analysis of the potential impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles projected for 2020 and 2030.” (Emphasis added.) The article in the Economic Times never does clarify.

edit: Science Daily now mentions “plug-in hybrid electric cars and trucks” in the first paragraph.

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2 Responses to “Hybrid cars will fell the sky!”

  1. lady3ug said

    I hate it when people irresponsibly publish misleading articles like that. I wonder who they’re sponsored by. That frequently plays a role in it.

  2. Actually even when talking about plug-in hybrids, they take a very limited point of view. Matter of fact is that plug-in hybrids can actually help bring energy supply into balance. Car batteries are actually a way to store energy locally and use it during peak demand. You just chrge your car in off-peak hours, and leave it parked and plugged into the system when not in use.

    These days, during peak demand, the utility companies need to turn on power plants to supply the additional demand. But if there are millions of batteries plugged into the grid, energy can be tapped into during peak demand, without any additional power plants brought on-line.

    There are a couple of companies already field testing such equipment, and Krupp of the EDF talks about it in the new book, Earth: The Sequel, which I reviewed yesterday on my blog.

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