Canada can’t meet electricity demand if new cars and trucks must be EV by 2035: Fraser Institute

To meet Ottawa policy, electricity grid would have to expand by the equivalent of 10 Site-C dams—an impossible demand, report says

By Dr. Cornelius Van Kooten, Fraser Institute, March 14, 2024

Below is the news release for a report by the Fraser Institute, Failure to Charge: A Critical Look at Canada’s EV Policy, on the feasibility of converting Canada from fossil-fuel vehicles to all-electric vehicles.

VANCOUVER—The federal government’s requirement that all new vehicles sold by 2035 be electric could increase Canada’s power demands by as much as 15.3 per cent, requiring the equivalent of 10 new mega hydro dams or 13 large natural gas plants to meet the increased power needs, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Requiring all new vehicle sales in Canada to be electric in just 11 years means the provinces need to substantially increase their power generation capabilities, and adding the equivalent of 10 new mega dams or 13 new gas plants in such a short timeline isn’t realistic or feasible,” said G. Cornelis van Kooten, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of Electric Vehicles and the Demand for Electricity.

The study measures how much additional electricity will be required in Canada and in three major provinces—Ontario, B.C. and Quebec—to charge electric vehicles oncethe federal government’s electric vehicle sales mandate comes into force.

For context, once Canada’s vehicle fleet is fully electric, it will require 10 new mega hydro dams (capable of producing 1,100 megawatts) nationwide, which is the size of British Columbia’s new Site C dam, which took approximately 10 years to plan and pass environmental regulations, and an additional decade to build. To date, Site C is expected to cost $16 billion.

Alternatively, the provinces could meet the increased electricity demand by building 13 large-scale natural gas plants nationwide capable of generating 500 megawatts of electricity each.

“Canadians need to know just how much additional electricity is going to be required in order to meet Ottawa’s electric vehicle mandate, because its impact on the provinces—and taxpayers and ratepayers—will be significant,” van Kooten said.

Dr. Cornelius Van Kooten is a professor of economics at the University of Victoria and a senior fellow at The Fraser Institute. The original Fraser Institute report can be found at this link.

Below is a summary of the report:

  • Governments are implementing measures to electrify transportation. In Canada, federal policy mandates that by 2035 all new passenger vehicles and light trucks sold have net zero emissions, ultimately leading to a fully electric fleet.
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) remain a relatively small share of the vehicle market, growing from less than 1% of sales in 2017 to 9.1% in Q4 2022.
  • This study examines the impact of increasing EV adoption on Canada’s electricity grids, estimating the additional generating capacity needed to meet the rising demand from EVs.
  • EVs could put a strain on Canadian electricity grids with annual increases in electricity demand ranging from 46.8 terawatt hours (7.5% of total generation) to 95.1 terawatt hours (15.3%).
  • This would require the construction of ten new mega dams, comparable to BC’s Site C, on Canadian rivers or thirteen new average-sized gas plants. Based on recent experience with British Columbia’s Site C dam, which has a capacity of 1,100 MW and is expected to generate sufficient power for 450,000 homes, it took more than a decade to plan and comply with environmental regulations and approximately another decade to construct. Meanwhile, there is growing opposition to the construction of additional gas pipelines and gas plants because of their environmental impacts.
  • Meeting the expected electricity demand from EVs adoption in Canada is not feasible given the current mandate timelines and the time required to develop and construct electricity generation and infrastructure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *