Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A common misconception about plugins.

I follow the White House's blog, and came across this today.

I found the Volt to be very comfortable -- and surprisingly simple. You plug it in and you can get 40 miles on a single charge! Because nearly 80% of Americans commute 40 miles or less a day, this car could potentially provide 80% of Americans with a zero-emissions option for their commute.

The reality is that plug-ins are as zero-emission as any other device in your house. Plug-ins do not have some magical source of energy that they charge off of that is zero-emissions. Plug-ins get their power from the same source as the outlet it plugs into. If you plug your car into an outlet at your house then your car will be running off of the source of power that your local electric company provides. This is not zero-emissions and the media should not be trying to sell that sort of misinformation. The White House shouldn't either.
What I would like to see is solar panels on the top of cars charging up the batteries. Solar panels are probably too expensive and produce too little energy to make much of an impact on your car (though I don't know that) it would be nice for your car to just sit in the driveway and charging up from a real zero-emissions source. I have heard that a new generation of solar cells are suppose to be coming out soon that are much more efficient. Perhaps these can provide a relevant amount of energy to our cars of the future.