Cross-country investments focus on charging infrastructure, solutions for electric trucks, buses and residential buildings, and breaking down barriers to EV adoption
July was a significant month for government investment in cleantech and zero-emission transportation at the federal level. In all, four different program arms of Natural Resources Canada invested $32 million. The projects ranged from the installation of 853 electric vehicle chargers, to increasing public awareness of zero emission vehicles and improving progress to green transportation planning and infrastructure.
The announcements coincided with the Government of Canada’s declaration of #EVWeekinCanada, a coordinated effort at a policy level to bring awareness to the transition. Quebec, too, offered more government support with over $21 million invested in public charging initiatives through Hydro-Québec.
“EV Week in Canada is about promoting and highlighting the benefits of owning and driving Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) in Canada,” wrote a spokesperson from Transport Canada in response to emailed questions from Electric Autonomy Canada about the initiative. “Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada, accounting for a quarter of Canada’s total emissions. Decarbonizing the transportation sector will be essential to meeting Canada’s climate change commitments.”
The funding and programming blitz is a key indicator that the government is gearing up to push adoption and policy in the second half of the year — possibly against the backdrop of a federal election where EVs, reducing emissions and renewable energy could play a pivotal role.
The menu of federal investments for July was wide-ranging:
- $4.95 million to Hydro One Ltd. in Ontario for heavy-duty electric truck charging station development.
- $2.5 million for the implementation of a smart charging platform for the Toronto Transit Commission’s electric bus fleet.
- $2 million to Opus One Solutions for a project to develop a shared economy model for EV chargers, focusing on residential EV charging impact on local power grids.
- $1.32 million to Alectra Inc. for the development of EV charging models for single-family and multi-unit residential buildings that provide affordable and easy access, while managing energy cost increases.
- $1.3 million for an enhanced SmartCharge Incentive system to Geotab Inc., with the goal of demonstrating price signals and optimal charge windows for owners of EVs.
- $635,000 to Blackstone Energy Services Inc. for a discharge energy system that encourages EV owners to send power back to the grid during peak demand periods. Blackstone are also to assist facility operators with offsetting their power use during such periods.
- $310,000 for Calgary and Edmonton to fund the installation of 44 EV chargers. The City of Calgary will partner with ENMAX Utilities and combine to contribute an additional $125,000 for the 20 chargers to be built at major light rail transit stations and recreational centres. Meanwhile, the City of Edmonton is collaborating with EPCOR Utilities to install 24 chargers at 13 different sites near busy recreational facilities.
- 170 EV chargers will be funded by $800,000 in British Columbia, which includes 168 Level 2 EV connectors and two fast chargers over the province. The chargers will be ready for use by the public come this winter.
- An additional $1.2 million will fund cities across the province to install 98 more EV chargers. 7-Eleven Inc. is one of the businesses that will benefit, as they plan to install six fast chargers at its stores in Vancouver, Langley, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Kelowna and Victoria.
- Finally, through a combination of federal and provincial funding, Quebec will see 215 new EV fast chargers installed by December 2022 due to a $9.4-million investment to Hydro-Québec, which is also contributing more than $10 million to the initiative. A related investment of over $3 million is also going to the utility to tackle barriers to EV adoption.
Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan Jr. said in the press release announcing the initiatives, “We’re giving Canadians the greener options they want to get to where they need to go. We’re building a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations from St. John’s to Victoria. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
Investing in future challenges
One of the unique elements of the funding announcements is the commitment to heavy-duty electric truck charging. It’s one of the first major federal signals it is anticipating a swift transition with a need for significant infrastructure.
In Ontario, and like other utilities, Hydro One has a massive task ahead of it: charging large batteries that long-haul trucks need in order to become fully-electric. It will also have to account for the need to do so in a quick and efficient manner, while still managing the demand on the grid.
The federal investment of nearly $5 million will help fund charging solutions to yield greater carbon reductions in the commercial transport sector.
Hydro One senior vice-president, strategy and growth Jason Rakochy said of the electric truck charging station model, “We’re integrating sustainability practices into all aspects of our business as part of our vision for a better and brighter future by developing innovative solutions such as our electric heavy-duty vehicle pilot to help achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Similarly, local grid demand will also have to be accounted for by Opus One Solutions as it investigates residential EV charging using $2 million in public funds.
Opus One’s mission is to build out smart grids in order to manage charging loads from public adoption of EVs. Using grid management software, the company is aiming to create harmony between grid battery storage, renewable energy and vehicle-to-grid draw-and-storage capabilities. Opus One emphasizes energy planning and off-peak charging to help balance the grid in an EV-centric future.
That’s where the investment in Geotab’s SmartCharge Incentive system — a program tied to Geotab Energy, launched in early 2021 — comes in.
Geotab Energy “arms utilities and electric vehicle owners with advanced electricity demand-management solutions” according to company materials. The mission is to determine how best to communicate off-peak price signals to EV drivers, whether it be through the property owner of the charging station, workplace or the homeowner.
While figuring out the times when both the price and demand on the grid are lower isn’t materially different from Time of Use (TOU) patterns that exist with current electricity plans, grid conditions do change. This makes communication “to bridge sustainable transportation with sustainable energy” all the more important, says the company.
Geotab Energy is primarily focussed on facilitating more efficient and fast communication between utilities and their customers and it has developed a SmartCharge Reward program to incentivize EV drivers to charge at beneficial times for the utilities.
Knocking down barriers
In order to tackle obstacles to EV adoption, the combined government investment in Hydro-Québec will allow the public utility to test ultra-fast new-generation charging stations. The goal is to assess technologies from different manufacturers under real-world conditions. Critical information will be collected and the utility will learn more about the strength of the power grid’s infrastructure.
“[W]e deployed our 500th rapid-charging station, and we are moving toward more than 2,500 rapid-charging stations by 2030 so that electric vehicle drivers can travel with peace of mind throughout Quebec,” said France Lampron, director of transportation electrification at Hydro-Québec in a press release.
So far and in total, Canada has invested over $1 billion in EV incentives and infrastructure as the country pushes toward 100 per cent new EV sales by 2035.