A successful approach to the twin problems of peak oil and the need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from the fossil fuels should also include a way of dealing with vehicles particularly as their numbers increase rapidly in large countries such as Brazil, China and India. The Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) is an important option because over 90% of the energy needs of the transportation sector come from oil, because about 70% of the oil consumed in a developed country is consumed for transportation purposes, because world oil consumption accounted for 41.3% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the fossil fuels in 2006, and because it has been found that some 78% of the commuters in the U.S.A. drive 64.5 km. (40 miles) or less to work. This paper examines the impact of a major option of this kind on the electrical network, on the means of generating the necessary extra power needed, and on the smooth linkage to a future hydrogen economy.
The main conclusions of this paper are that the deployment of PHEVs of up to one million vehicles (or even more) can be supported by the existing electrical network now with only minor modifications needed in most parts of Canada; that this approach depends critically upon the success of the current efforts to improve the lithium-ion battery system; that a continuing and stable electrical network remains essential since distributed generation (generation in the home, etc.) will not supply the needed energy, particularly at night, when most of the vehicles will be recharged; and that two quite different coal-using processes will likely be needed for the further expansion of this option in the future to keep the network in balance – one based on combustion and the other gasification - with both equipped for the capture and sequestering of carbon dioxide. It is difficult to envision this route becoming the main path to the future for cars without the expansion of nuclear generation, particularly in Ontario. It is also shown that the advent of PHEVs leads to a seamless path to the ultimate hydrogen economy.