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Electric cars can help reduce electrical infrastructure pressures

Kelly Lapointe
Electric cars can help reduce electrical infrastructure pressures

As Ontario’s electricity infrastructure ages and climate change is expected to result in more grid disruptions, electric vehicles (EVs) can help mitigate those issues, say EV proponents.

 

“Climate change is going to result in, some reports state up to 50 per cent more grid disruptions by 2020. With vehicle to grid or vehicle to home technologies, they can be used to provide power to homes and provide backup power solutions to businesses,” said Stephen Bieda of Sun Country Highway.

Bieda spoke on the Smart Transports and Transport Infrastructure panel at Canada’s first All-Energy exhibition and conference held recently in Toronto.

Plug’n Drive president and chief executive officer Cara Clairman noted that gas plants are built at great cost to solve a small problem, to help out the grid during its peak.

“If we could take advantage of these cars that are distributed all around, these batteries out there that can store electricity and then eventually offer that electricity back into the grid. You have this huge opportunity to do peak shaving to reduce demand at the peak and perhaps reduce the need for those peaking plants, reduce the need for a gas plant,” she told the audience.

Plug’n Drive is a non-profit organization committed to accelerating the adoption of EVs to maximize their environmental and economic benefits.

Canada currently has close to 140 megawatts (MW) of available storage through EVs and it is expected that there will be 1,000 MW of storage available through EVs by 2020, said Clairman.

“Not everybody’s car would be available and not everyone would be willing to offer their battery into the grid, but we have something that doesn’t require any new infrastructure to be built, it doesn’t really require us to do much of anything except to allow for the electricity to go back and forth between the grid and the car.”

The concept is currently being tested in California and “in the next few years is going to become a reality for us,” she said.

As of April 2014, there were 6,159 electric vehicles in Canada, which Clairman said is “really quite good” considering they have only been on the market for about three years.

Sun Country Highway is known for the world’s longest green highway project, which placed EV charging stations across Canada so an EV can now drive 10,000 kilometres coast to coast. Bieda said charging stations are constantly being added to the route as not every car could do it right now. The Highway 401 corridor between Montreal and Detroit is also completely electrified.

People can charge their cars at these charging stations for free, much of the same way that various businesses provide free WiFi, said Bieda.

“For now this is a starting point to really ignite things and to get us on the road to a more electrified future.”

He also noted that greater buy-in for EVs will result in a more sustainable economy as the energy to power an EV comes from the local grid, as opposed to oil and gas, with 50 per cent coming from the Middle East.

“When you install an electric vehicle charging station or you commit to an electric vehicle in general, you’re not employing minimum wage workers, typically, you’re actually providing good livable wages like electricians, engineers and utility workers.”

He noted that electric trucks, vans and SUVs will be coming soon to the Canadian marketplace.

Follow Kelly Lapointe on Twitter @DCNKelly.

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