FLO ev charging station in retail store parking lot
Baseload Power Corp. is partnering with FLO — a Quebec-based public charging network operator and EV charger manufacturer and supplier — for the launch of Baseload’s new Aura EV Charging network. Photo: Baseload Power

The Aura EV Charging network, with funding from NRCan and in partnership with network operator FLO, builds on Baseload’s vision of offering an integrated suite of sustainable electricity infrastructure for a new kind of “mobile consumer”

Baseload Power Corp., a Toronto-based owner, operator and developer of sustainable electricity infrastructure is adding itself to the list of electric vehicle charging network operators in Canada. Baseload is partnering with FLO — a Quebec-based public charging network operator and EV charger manufacturer and supplier — for the launch of Baseload’s new Aura EV Charging network.

Last week, Baseload announced it had received $3.5 million in funding through Natural Resource Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicles infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) to set up 31 Level 2 chargers and 67 DC fast chargers with charging speeds between 50 kilowatts to 100 kW across Ontario and Quebec. The total project will cost up to $10.5 million.

“The name Aura is interesting from our perspective because Aura means “human energy,” and we strongly believe that it’s going to take human energy to really bring about a change in electrifying the transportation industry and the way we get around,” says Jonathan Sandler, president of Baseload Power in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.

In the longer term, Baseload plans to expand Aura into a fully national EV charging network.

“Our focus from the very beginning has always been very much about changing the course of the climate and we’re looking to do that through renewable energy, energy storage and EV charging and have a holistic approach to addressing climate change issues and really greening the transportation industry.”

Baseload has also partnered up with public charging network operator FLO to help deploy the Aura EV Charging stations across Canada. The Aura stations will be supported by FLO’s equipment and operating system.

“We are very pleased to support Aura and Baseload Power in this major deployment,” said Louis Tremblay, FLO president and CEO in a press statement. “FLO’s expansion across principal locations in Canada, particularly in Ontario via the Aura network, has been key in the network’s overall growth, providing EV drivers with the service that they expect and deserve.”

By the end of 2022, all of the currently planned Aura chargers will be installed. Baseload plans to expand the network in 2023 and 2024 with the rollout of chargers in British Columbia and then to the rest of Canada, says Sandler.

Linking renewables and recharging

As part of its business model, Baseload collaborates with many electricity users, landowners, utilities, stakeholders, and partners to build sustainable electricity infrastructure, with a focus on renewable energies — wind and solar — projects and energy storage projects.

The company is responsible for developing over five per cent of all operating renewable energy projects in Ontario and has a portfolio of over two gigawatts of energy storage and renewable energy projects in development across Canada.

“Going forward we do see a synergy between the production of electricity through renewables and with energy storage as an add-on and then the use of that electricity at our EV charging stations,” says Sandler.

“Right now the regulatory rules and requirements don’t necessarily completely allow for an EV driver to purchase their electricity from a solar farm, for example. But down the road, we do believe the regulatory regime will change and that will allow us to develop, build and own renewable energy projects with energy storage, and provide that electricity in a virtual way to the EV drivers that show up at our stations.”

Making a self-sufficient network

In the future, Baseload is also looking for opportunities to incorporate solar carports over the tops of Aura chargers so that in some cases the system may become self-sufficient.

“There’ll be opportunities for having energy storage at our EV charging sites in cases where maybe the grid doesn’t support a significant amount of load. The energy storage equipment can help to mitigate some of that to ensure that there’s enough power to charge the cars, but at the same time, it’s not drawing from the grid and putting a huge strain on the grid,” says Sandler.

“We see that the EV driver is a brand-new electricity consumer. They’re mobile so they are no longer stuck to the house where they live…. as a mobile consumer, you’re driving and consuming electricity from multiple different locations and we want to be able to provide a whole gamut of electricity services and products to this new consumer.”

Baseload also offers home and office and workplace charging opportunities. Sandler adds that they will begin rolling out those EV programs for different office buildings and multi-residential buildings as well as fleet services for companies wanting to move away from gas or diesel cars towards EVs later in the year.