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Electricity and Alternate Fuels for Transportation

For over 100 years petroleum and internal combustion engines have been used to create the energy needed to move people and goods. Alternative fuels are now being used in transportation in a number of ways and several provide economic and environmental benefits in addition to the potential of increased energy output.

Biofuels, such as non-food ethanol produced from non-food sources and biodiesel; gaseous fuels, such as natural gas and propane; electricity; and hydrogen will all play a role in transportation in the future. Each of the alternative fuels has pros and cons and some are closer to common commercial use than others. Each fuel has specific supporting infrastructure requirements.

TVA is working with regional and national partners to study potential uses of alternative fuel, with a primary focus on electricity as a transportation fuel.

Utilities, including TVA, have underutilized generation capacity during off-peak hours (hours of low demand for electricity), mostly at night. This off-peak capacity provides the opportunity to provide electric fuel for transportation at relatively low system costs, providing benefits both to the utility and the off-peak customer — who could be the plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle owner.

In this view, dependence on foreign fuel is decreased by using domestically produced energy for transportation needs. TVA’s mission of low-cost reliable power is also supported by allowing us to use our generation facilities more productively.

However, effects on localized production of power may be realized from providing electricity as a fuel. As electric vehicles vary, so do the charging requirements and effects on the grid. Because of this, TVA is working with our utility partners to develop education and outreach programs for consumers and other stakeholders to learn how to use TVA electricity as a fuel.

 

           
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