Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thoughts on new EV charging stations in the City of Langley

I received an email from the City of Langley with news that they have installed two electric vehicle charging stations in the community. One station is at City Hall and the other station is located at the City’s Operations Centre at 5713 198 Street. Both stations will initially be free to use, but will eventually charge 9ȼ per kilowatt hour. According to the press release, the Fraser Basin Council’s Community Charging Infrastructure Program has provided $15,000 towards the charging station project while $13,000 was contributed by the City. You can find more information about charging station locations in Metro Vancouver by visiting ChargePoint. The City also has an FAQ page for information about its charging stations. With these new charging stations, the South of Fraser will have a total of five public charging stations.

While electric vehicles can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are some caveats. Right now BC gets most of its electricity from hydroelectric power which has a lower GHG emission profile than natural gas or coal-fired electrical generation. Hydro's GHG profile is also significantly lower when compared to a gasoline powered engine. But BC sometimes runs out of power during peak usage periods and has to buy power from other producers to fill the gap. If more people purchased electric vehicles, there is the risk that BC would have to buy more power from producers that use coal or other dirty fuels to generate electricity.

According to one study, an electric vehicle GHG emission profile is directly tied to the type of energy used in the production of electricity. In BC, one solution could be to charge a much higher rate for electric vehicle charging during peak electricity usage and a lower rate when energy usage is low to reduce the use of “dirty power” running BC’s electric vehicle fleet.

Even with clean power, there is still the matter of dealing with the toxic battery waste from electric vehicles and dealing with the full lifecycle environmental impacts from automobile usage. Also, the use of electric vehicles does not negate the need to build compact, complete and accessible communities. Community designed around electric vehicles still create obesity, congestion, and sprawl like communities designed around regular gas-power vehicles.

All this to say that while it is good to see more electric vehicle infrastructure, electrical vehicles are only one part in a toolkit to build a healthier, more sustainable South of Fraser and BC.

1 comment:

Jordan Bateman said...

Key stat:

"With nearly 600 charging stations planned, that is DOUBLE the number of actual electric cars insured in British Columbia today."

Think about that!

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