GASOLINE POWERED PERSONAL MOTOR TRANSPORT is among the largest energy use categories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada. De-carbonizing this activity requires electrifying it. At the current usage level, this would require upward of 12,000 megawatts of new non-emitting electricity generating capacity across the country. This has the potential to eliminate some 85
million tons of GHGs annually from Canada’s national inventory. Electrifying all road and rail transport could eliminate a further 60 million tons.
The CNWC supports the current governmental support for electric transport infrastructure, though with some shift in focus. While direct subsidies to consumers for vehicle purchases and to automakers for component manufacturing may serve a useful purpose, the current limitations of electric grids represent serious bottlenecks that impede consumer uptake of electric transport technology. The above-mentioned new generation capacity required to electrify just gasoline-powered transport entails major additional quantities of power at the local level. Moving this amount of power to end users at the right time will require significant additions of capital equipment to urban grids. Timely delivery of such vast quantities will require careful forethought and holistic, integrated planning on the part of all players in the grid: regulators, generation, transmission, and local distribution.
Urban grids, in short, will require significant expansion in their capacity to distribute power—their duties will expand to “fuelling” motor vehicle fleets that currently collectively consume hundreds of Terawatt-hours of energy each year.
Federal and provincial subsidies should be targeted at least in part to addressing the financial and technological implications of this. Major electrification projects and efforts with immediate payoffs in economic stimulus, pollution emissions reduction, and general quality of life should include:
1. Electrifying, by overhead wire, most of Metrolinx’s GO Train lines in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. This should occur in tandem with electrification of the freight rail system in the GTHA, since Canada’s Class freight rail carriers own significant parts of the GO system.
2. Expanding charging infrastructure, focusing on high capacity installations for commercial and public transit vehicle fleets; making these multiple fast-chargers available to personal vehicles.
3. Building new zero-emitting generation capacity…