A electric vehicle charging at the University of Victoria this month. (Photo Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions)

Can B.C. cleanly power every car if we go electric?

Low-cost renewables are closer than appear, UVic study

B.C.’s switch to electric powered cars is a big step toward its role in helping slow the climate crisis.

But will we be able to cleanly produce enough electricity for vehicles in B.C. by the time all vehicles have switched over?

Not yet, but it’s easily doable says a new study from a team of University of Victoria researchers with support from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS).

The study will be published in the November issue of peer-reviewed science journal Applied Energy.

READ MORE: Drivers are ‘ICE-ing’ electric car charging spots in Greater Victoria

It found that if all vehicles in B.C. were powered by electricity instead of liquid fuels by 2055, B.C. would need to more than double its electricity generation to meet the forecasted energy demand. That takes into account B.C.’s law that all cars sold in 2040 are electric or non-oil burning.

“We fixed our assumptions based on current policies in the world,” said Curran Crawford, who co-authored the study with a team of UVic researchers.

However, the move could prove surprisingly cost-effective. But the answer isn’t new dams like Site C. The likeliest solutions are a multitude of renewable resource energy, primarily from wind and solar on the Island, and also new hydro sites. They also looked at longer term options such as floating off shore wind energy, biomass and geothermal, saying overall the resources are there.

“Depending where they go, the challenge is transmission [of the electricity or energy back to urban centres],” Crawford said.

For instance, B.C.’s planned Site C project will provide 1.1 GW, which merely “scratches the surface of potential increased power and energy needs.”

READ MORE: One out of three drivers have had their car unplugged at an electric pump

“Solar photovoltaic and wind power look very promising for BC due to their falling costs,” the study says. “By 2055, B.C. will need to increase its electrical production capacity from a 2015 baseline of 15.6 gigawatts (GW) to 23 GW. This factors in all-electric road transportation as well, and up to 60 per cent additional capacity will be needed. This would more than double BC’s electricity generation capacity to 37 GW.”

Right now, transportation is responsible for more than a third of B.C.’s GHG emissions. The province’s CleanBC plan relies on getting cars, SUVs, buses and truck fleets off fossil fuels and onto cleanly produced electricity.

The trick is waiting out the building of renewable energy facilities as the cost is coming down every year, thanks to rapidly advancing technologies and the human expertise that goes with it.

“The longer we wait the less it will cost to build the infrastructure,” Crawford added.

Under BC’s current Clean Energy Act, at least 93 per cent of grid electricity must come from renewable resources such as hydro power, wind or solar.

As long as that policy remains in place, electrifying the entire road fleet would reduce total emissions from the combined transportation and electricity sectors by 38 per cent between 2015 and 2055, relative to the current picture.

The key is ensuring that the policies enforce the creation of renewable electricity and not relaxing the standards around greenhouse gas options such as natural gas, Crawford said.

PICS is hosted at UVic and runs in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern British Columbia.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Beacon Avenue pot shop dispute heading to court

The two sides are scheduled to meet in early January 2020 in a Victoria courtroom

Judge’s decision set for January in dangerous driving trial for crash that left Saanich girl unresponsive

Tenessa Nikirk is charged with one count of dangerous driving after Leila Bui was struck in 2017

Donations down, Peninsula Santa’s Helpers worry heading into final week of toy drive

Coin, toy drive supports 250 children registered with the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank

Oak Bay Police melt dozens of guns into metal cube

Set of rare dueling muskets could go to museum

Victoria Police Department taking too long to respond to emergency calls

A new report says VicPD is not meeting its 911 response targets

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read