Effects of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles on Ozone Concentrations in Colorado

Gregory L. Brinkman, Paul Denholm, Michael P. Hannigan, Jana B. Milford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus Citations


This study explores how ozone concentrations in the Denver, CO area might have been different if plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) had replaced light duty gasoline vehicles in summer 2006. A unit commitment and dispatch model was used to estimate the charging patterns of PHEVs and dispatch power plants to meet electricity demand. Emission changes were estimated based on gasoline displacement and the emission characteristics of the power plants providing additional electricity. The Comprehensive Air Quality Model with extensions (CAMx) was used to simulate the effects of these emissions changes on ozone concentrations. Natural gas units provided most of the electricity used for charging PHEVs in the scenarios considered. With 100% PHEV penetration, nitrogen oxide (NOJ emissions were reduced by 27 tons per day (tpd) from a fleet of 1.7 million vehicles and were increased by 3 tpd from power plants; VOC emissions were reduced by 57 tpd. These emission changes reduced modeled peak 8-h average ozone concentrations by approximately 2-3 ppb on most days. Ozone concentration increases were modeled for small areas near central Denver. Future research is needed to forecast when significant PHEV penetration may occur and to anticipate characteristics of the corresponding power plant and vehicle fleets.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6256-6262
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A2-48656


  • air quality
  • PHEV


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