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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Electric hybrid cars that consumers would recharge overnight could dramatically cut U.S. greenhouse emissions, a new report said.
Plug-in electric hybrid vehicles in the United States could cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 450 million tonnes per year, according to the report by environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council and industry research group Electric Power Research Institute.
That amount is the equivalent of removing 82.5 million, or about a third, of U.S. cars from the road, the report said.
Emissions-cutting technologies such as capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide would have to take root at power plants in order for the full global warming benefits of the cars to be realized, the report said.
“NRDC believes that a combination of more efficient vehicles, improved battery technology, and a lower emitting electric power plant fleet can produce substantial reduction in global warming from both the electric power and the transportation sectors,” David Hawkins, director of NRDC’s climate center, said in a statement.
Interest in plug-ins has surged amid near-record oil prices and worries about emissions of gases scientists link to global warming. The cars are not yet in production, but Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally said earlier this month he expects the company to sell the vehicles in five to 10 years.
Plug-ins would run on batteries that can be recharged by connecting to home electric sockets and engines that burn liquid fuels like gasoline and ethanol.
Batteries for the cars have not yet been perfected.
If the U.S. auto fleet converts to 60 percent plug-ins by 2050, it would reduce petroleum consumption by 3 million to 4 million barrels per day, but boost power consumption by 7 to 8 percent, the report said.