Carbon Knowledge

Is Canada’s Power Grid Future-Friendly?

More and more people are purchasing electric vehicles (EVs). So many people in fact, that EVs powered by batteries or fuel cells will likely dominate the market by 2035.

Electric Vehicles are meant to help the environment because they don’t have CO2 emissions. But, is that a correct assumption? The electricity needed to charge EV batteries produces carbon emissions.

Depending on the power grid in each jurisdiction, the carbon emitted from charging EV batteries varies widely. Each grid’s carbon intensity is measured by the number of grams of CO2 it emits for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity it generates (CO2e/kWh).

There is a considerable difference in the amount of COemitted by electrical grids across Canada. Jurisdictions that burn a lot of fossil fuels – like coal and natural gas – emit significantly more CO2 than jurisdictions that rely primarily on hydropower:

Province / Territory Grid Carbon Intensity (CO2e/kWh)
Nunavut 800
Nova Scotia 680
Alberta 640
Saskatchewan 620
Prince Edward Island 300
New Brunswick 300
Northwest Territories 180
Yukon 110
Ontario 28
Newfoundland and Labrador 25
British Columbia 7.8
Quebec 1.9
Manitoba 1.2

To attain a future friendly grid and to realize the benefits of moving to EVs, Canada’s electricity grids need to become cleaner, with much fewer carbon emissions.

The Pembina Institute recently reported that Canada could achieve a net zero grid by 2035 if the following steps were implemented:

    • Federal government commits to a national net-zero grid by 2035 (done)
    • Federal government finalizes Clean Electricity Regulations – 2023
    • All electricity emissions are subject to carbon pricing – 2024
    • Unabated natural gas plants stop coming online – 2024
    • All provinces commit to 2035 net zero grid plans – 2025
    • Transmission inter-tie agreements signed – 2025
    • All electricity emissions are priced at $170/t – 2030
    • 90% of grid is non-emitting – 2030
    • Fully net-zero grid – 2035

Many of Canada’s electricity grids are currently not future friendly. With timely action starting now, that situation could be changed. If Canada could successfully transition to a future friendly electricity grid by 2035, there would no longer be any doubt – carbon emissions from driving electric vehicles would virtually disappear.

Tags: Carbon Knowledge

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