CEO, Electrum Charging Solutions
President, Electrum Charging Solutions
The road to carbon neutrality demands the electrification of transportation, and alongside it, the charging infrastructure to enable the transition.
Existing policies to stimulate the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) and installation of EV infrastructure across Canada have pushed EV sales to ever-increasing highs. As the global fight against climate destabilization intensifies, investment in charging infrastructure will be a key driver of consumer and commercial EV adoption in the decades to come.
Transportation is responsible for approximately 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the federal government has set a nationwide emissions reduction target of 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Correspondingly, the electrification of the transportation sector is a central part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to achieve these goals.
This past March, Canadian EV sales reached a new high of 5.6% of light-duty vehicles. While the COVID-19 pandemic has since slowed sales of all vehicles, the pace of new charging stations has continued unabated. There are currently 5,000 publicly-available charging locations across the country, a number expected to grow exponentially in the next 20 years to reach the national target of 100% zero-emissions passenger vehicles sales by 2040.
Electric vehicles gaining ground
While the required scale of infrastructure deployment appears daunting, new technology is rapidly reducing the cost while also increasing the utility of EV chargers. The deployment of smart charging, which allows for more charging stations on a site, cost recovery for usage, real-time monitoring, and better data to understand driver needs, will be key to the efficient build-out of the charging ecosystem and to bolstering consumer confidence around purchasing EVs.
“The incentives being offered today by the provincial and federal governments are about as good as it’s ever going to be, and they provide an affordable way to deploy charging at almost any site for those considering going electric,” says Dan Trudel, CEO of Electrum Charging Solutions. “We’re also talking about high-speed direct current (DC) chargers along highway corridors, allowing EV drivers a means of travelling without the fear-of-range anxiety.”
The speed at which a car can charge is largely based on its battery technology, with some already able to add 300 kilometres of range in 20 minutes or less on DC fast chargers. However, where possible, the majority of charging is still done overnight and at home.
While the private sector continues to deploy EV charging at retail and other publicly-accessible locations, there’s still the need to make more chargers available in workplace and residential buildings. For example, British Columbia is requiring automakers to meet a 10% EV sales target on light-duty models by 2025, and 11 of its largest municipalities have mandated that new building construction include EV-readiness for all parking stalls.
“Typically, with these large-scale installations, we don’t electrify every stall right away,” says Trudel. “We install the electrical infrastructure to support the scale-up of charging throughout the parkade as needed. Our post-deployment strategy includes completely informing owners about what’s been installed, how it works, where to get more chargers, and what the costs are.” This provides a clear path to full electrification that reduces the administrative burden on owners or building managers.
Increasing demand for power
Retrofitting existing buildings is a big proposition and may be a sticking point for prospective EV owners who live in apartments or condos without electrified parking spaces. It’s a challenge for people across the country, particularly in the largest cities who feel they have no other options, says Brodie Gunning, President of Electrum Charging Solutions.
“Retrofitting is what people are looking for,” says Gunning. “Without any real significant electrical infrastructure upgrades, our software can use the building’s available power and allocate it towards charging while providing cost recovery and controlling who uses the chargers. That’s going to be a big part of doing it in a cost-effective way.”