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Using the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) to Transition Society Seamlessly and Profitably from Fossil Fuel to 100% Renewable Energy



Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

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Suggested Citation:
Frank, Andrew A. and Catherine J. DeMauro (2015) Using the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) to Transition Society Seamlessly and Profitably from Fossil Fuel to 100% Renewable Energy. Green Car Congress (17 July 2015)

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The alternative-fuel car evolved to reduce exhaust emissions and other problems derived from burning fossil fuels. The PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), a subset of the electric car, combines a primary electric motor with a much smaller back-up engine fueled with a hydrocarbon/biofuel mix. (In this paper PHEV refers solely to the long-range PHEV of 60 miles (100 km) electric-only range.) The PHEV does not require the heavy, costly batteries required by other electric cars, nor does it suffer from a limited range or poor freeway performance.

Though the PHEV combines the two types of energy and power, it is not merely a temporary "transition" between gasoline and diesel cars to pure electric cars. It is much more than that. It offers the solution to several significant transitions we need: moving society from burning fossil fuels to substituting renewable resource fuels such as solar, wind and biofuels; and from using fossil materials as fuel to using them for other recyclable uses.

At present, PHEV technology alone is equipped to improve the current electric grid. The car can refuel during periods of low demand on the grid, and if equipped with a bi-directional charger, can actually replenish the grid with excess energy gleaned from a renewable resource. It solves the storage problems faced by the electric utility companies in absorbing and adapting to the highly variable power and energy generated by solar and wind. Since it can refuel from a standard household outlet and from a gasoline station, it needs no new infrastructure.

If PHEVs became the major form of transportation, the use of fossil fuels would be cut dramatically. The average PHEV uses 1/10th the amount of liquid fuel needed by a conventional car a year. Since it can operate on 100% biofuel, it is the means for achieving new goals recently set for reducing the use of fossil fuels and cutting the net emission of C02 to zero. In fact, the PHEV is the only existing technology that acts as a vector for transitioning our society to exclusive use of renewable resources.

We have written a short paper of about 22 pages suitable for a general audience, pulling out more technical information into a series of appendices. Since some readers might read only one appendix, some information has been repeated.