If all vehicles are EV by 2040, will we have enough electric power? Answer: Not even close….

To meet the 2040 objective at least eight more projects the size of Site C and Muskrat Falls are required. How likely is that?

By Kent Zehr, May 13, 2019

This article first appeared on the Friends of Science website and has been slightly edited. For the original article, click here.

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau has stated that by 2040 all vehicles sold in Canada will be zero emission vehicles, generally meaning rechargeable electric vehicles.

While projecting the usage and mileage of such vehicles is difficult and subject to interpretation and speculation, the amount of energy being expended by that sector of the economy today is measured and reported, which means we can have some idea of the conditions that must exist for all vehicles in Canada to be electric in 2040.

At perfect efficiency (which is impossible), more than 10,000 megawatts of additional electrical generation capacity are required for Canada to be 100% electric passenger cars by 2040.

At the present time, there are two large power projects being built in Canada, Site C in B.C. and Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland. Combined, they have a capacity of 1,924 megawatts, if they meet their design capacity.

Site C offers an example of the kind of lead time and cost escalation it takes to build a new hydro-electric site. Wikipedia offers the following facts in its article on Site C:

The Site C dam in BC was first considered in hearings in 1980-81, and turned down. After the Clean Energy Act of 2010 it began to move forward; in 2012 it was mandated under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA); in 2014 it received environmental approval from federal and provincial authorities. Site clearing began in 2016. Since then it has been stalled and started several times with court action from various environmental groups or First Nations. It is expected to come on line in 2025. The original cost was estimated at $6.6 billion; estimates now predict $11 to $12 billion. This cost does not include transmission lines to hubs.

The two existing projects have taken or will take more than five years to reach production, even after facing years, even decades, of opposition.

Meeting the 2040 goal will require at least eight more major power-generation projects

There are no other large power generation projects even being contemplated in Canada currently. To meet the 2040 stated objective at least eight more projects, of about the sizes being built, are required.

In addition to the power generation, large amounts of additional electrical infrastructure will be needed to deliver the newly generated power to locations where it will be needed. None is planned now. The infrastructure costs are in the hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars—the 500 kV transmission line from Calgary to Pincher Creek wind farms cost $2.2 billion. Additional upgrades would be required for most distribution lines (within neighbourhoods) and transformers and the IT infrastructure at the electric system operation, which may be in the nine figures.

Given how electrical vehicles will be used, mostly for commuting and shopping, recharging create a heavy nighttime load on the power system. The vagaries of weather may require day-time charging, adding to base-load demands. This eliminates solar and wind power from contention as new electrical supply sources.

Other technologies, nuclear fission and fusion, may be deployable in time to meet the projected demand. However, both of these technologies have long, long lead times and will be challenged to meet demand in even fifteen years.

What should we do? For a start, the subsidies for buyers of electric cars should cease immediately. Also, a national consensus needs to be developed that supports increased power generation and distribution ahead of the demand coming on from electrical vehicles. Or, we can aim for a more realistic approach that gradually reduces the use of vehicles using fossil fuels while developing and enhancing our supply of nuclear power.

It’s easy for politicians like Trudeau to make green proclamations and deadlines. But the 2040 EV deadline also requires action from governments in building much more electrical-generating power, including so-called “renewables” like wind and solar, and/or hydro power, and/or nuclear. Ironically, both new dams and new nuclear power plants will face a storm of protests and delays from the very environmentalists who support E-Vehicles, while wind/solar are intermittent and not nearly developed enough to meet the new demand.

As the situation stands now, with almost zero planning for the electrical capacity we will actually need, the call to make all or most vehicles in Canada electric by 2040 is a green fantasy that will leave many of these newly purchased vehicles stuck in their garages or stranded at the side of the road.

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