Plug-in Hybrids

UC Davis is piloting a study with 100 households in Northern CA.

Plug-ins could be a real game-changer. I know they’re only incrementally better than regular hybrids, but the more we can get people in the habit of charging their cars rather than fueling them, the easier it will be to change the energy sources as they get cleaner:

The downside of plug-in hybrids, critics say, is that the converted cars, by using household electricity for daily recharging, are simply sucking more energy from the already polluting coal-fired power grid, and that in the long run this is just as bad for the environment as having a gasoline-only car.

Turrentine conceded that the United States “should clean up its coal-fired plants,” but said that in states such as California, which gets much of its power from cleaner sources such as hydroelectric plants, plug-in hybrids will only help.

Right. It’s much easier to replace a few hundred coal-fired plants with cleaner technology than it is so swap out a few million internal combustion engines. Every incremental improvement to the plants makes the cars cleaner without actually having to do anything to the cars themselves.

This is why we’ll all be running web-based versions of Microsoft Office in a few years. When the software needs to be updated, it’s vastly easier to update a few web servers than it is to remind a few million consumers that they need to go online and download a patch.