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Electric Vehicles and the Environment

photo of Douglas Dam

It's all coming together — public policy, technological improvements, monetary incentives, green awareness — to promote big changes on our highways. Over the next 10 years, electric vehicles charged like a cell phone at home and at night will become increasingly commonplace.

One of the important benefits expected from the switch to electric cars is a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels, which could in turn reduce localized air pollution from transportation, as well as the threat of climate change. However, the production of electricity itself can involve the use of fossil fuels. In the TVA region, for example, about 50 percent of the electricity generated comes from coal.

TVA is examining how the switch from gasoline to electricity in transportation will affect air quality and looking for ways to maximize environmental benefits.

The entire system of power generation and delivery can be fine tuned to maximize efficiency and minimize the impact on the environment. TVA will work to create a system designed to fully integrate communication of power demand with control of power delivery.

By refining traditional system control processes, carbon and other emissions resulting from power generation for electric cars can be reduced. Smart charging — using technology to charge the vehicle at the best time for the environment and the consumer — will make this possible.

The scale of the TVA system, regional electric vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure development, and the concept of a fully integrated smart grid system provide the ideal situation to fully understand and maximize the environmental benefits of electricity as a transportation fuel.



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