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NEWS RELEASE · 13th September 2010
Pembina Institute
In just 20 years, one in every three vehicles on British Columbia’s roads could be electric, according to a primer released by the Pembina Institute today, coinciding with the start of a four-day electric vehicle conference in Vancouver.

Pembina’s primer explores the air quality and climate benefits of electric vehicles operated in B.C., as well as other hot topics, such as charging infrastructure and how the electricity grid can handle additional demand.

Pembina has concluded that if those one million electric vehicles were on the road today, oil demand would be reduced by about 12 million barrels per year — more than twice the amount of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico during BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster — and the province’s greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by seven per cent.

“This puts British Columbians on the front line of a revolution poised to reduce the world’s dependence on oil,” said Katie Laufenberg, co-author of the primer and a policy analyst for the Pembina Institute. “Electric vehicles offer a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels.”

B.C. is one of the most promising jurisdictions in North America for the adoption of electric vehicles for five reasons:

1. More than 93 per cent of the electricity generated in B.C. comes from renewable sources.

2. British Columbians have switched to hybrid vehicles at double the rate of the Canadian average, indicating they are ready to adopt green technologies.

3. About 95 per cent of all vehicle trips in B.C.’s urban areas are less than 30 kilometres — ideal for the battery electric vehicles coming to market in 2011, which can drive up to 160 kilometres on a single charge.

4. B.C. has the most ambitious carbon tax in North America, which will make electric vehicles powered by renewable energy increasingly competitive as the tax increases.

5. Local governments are implementing policies, enticing automakers and establishing partnerships to make B.C. a Canadian leader in electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles operated in B.C. are a clear part of the solution to air quality concerns and climate pollution,” Laufenberg said.

A battery electric vehicle operated in B.C. will emit 80 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions in its lifetime than a conventional vehicle and will eliminate dangerous tailpipe pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter, which cause smog and respiratory ailments.

“The future of electric vehicles is looking very promising, but we won’t get there without governments continuing to implement policies to make sure the right infrastructure and incentives are in place,” Laufenberg said.

To that end, Pembina will be working with local governments in the Lower Mainland this fall to help identify key actions they can take to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.
Lithium Problem
Comment by Alexander Pietralla on 13th September 2010
Interesting , yet a little optimistic, as I do think this is a bit like going to a restaurant that still needs to hire a cook.

I would be really interested to see which information the Institute has, that seems to be missing at the automotive headquarters. To date there are huge unresolved issues on : cost, supply chain, logistics and supply of material for batteries etc. The leading nation in battery technology ( Japan ) is facing a triple dip in their economy and is starting to slow down in development as financial resources are getting scarcer. Completely unresolved are the Lithium resources ( currently at 9.9 million metric tons ) and how these will be distributed. The electric vehicle revolution will only be viable if cost is coming down significantly. I fail to see how Economies of Scale and the Lithium Problem are coming together, to build a viable business case.

.... the answer came promptly :

Hi Alexander. Thank you for your question. Electrifying our vehicles is a huge step and it's always hard to imagine new technologies becoming mainstream. There certainly are many challenges to be overcome — but think about cellphones 20 years ago. They were virtually non-existent and there were huge challenges in range and infrastructure to overcome. Now they are incredibly wide-spread.

Moving to power our vehicles with electricity offers a tremendous opportunity to get off of oil and we can absolutely overcome the challenges. While the up front-cost of an electric vehicle is higher than a comparable conventional car, these costs are expected to decrease substantially in the next 5-10 years. Billions of dollars of stimulus funds from the Department of Energy in the U.S. have also been invested in the electric vehicle industry. These investments alone are expected to decrease EV battery costs by nearly 70% by the end of 2015. Since batteries are the most expensive component of EVs, this will reduce cost significantly.

There will certainly be an increased demand for lithium if EVs are successful, but based on estimates for global lithium consumption, there are 148 million tonnes of lithium reserves, enough to supply us for 370 years. Also important are the recycling plans for batteries. Currently Toxco, Inc. in Trail, B.C., is the only facility in North America that recycles Lithium Ion batteries.

For more information, see this presentation from Canadian Lithium Corporation about the availability of lithium in North America and the world: