Deployment in British Columbia of fast chargers for electric vehicles will likely require substantial private investment

A recent study by the Government of British Columbia reveals that at the current rate, the province will fail to meet the infrastructure needs for fast-charging stations for electric vehicles across the province.

British Columbia will need to quickly close its shortage of fast-charging electric vehicles, a new government study warns. The latest report says that in September 2020, the province is already well behind current demand and with more electric vehicle use expected in the coming years, now is the time to build a network of electric vehicles. fast recharge.

The British Columbia Zero Emission Light Vehicle Public Infrastructure Study, which provided an “analysis of DC fast-charging and hydrogen refueling stations to ensure geographic coverage and adequate capacity for vehicles. zero-emission light vehicles across British Columbia by 2040, ”determined that the province’s charging needs would double over the next 20 years.

Data shows that if EV sales targets are to be met, British Columbia will need a total of 6,710 fast charging ports at 400 sites by 2040. That’s three and a half times more than what the current infrastructure can support.

The report came on the heels of two charging infrastructure announcements, one from Parkland and one from BC Hydro. Together, the two projects will add nearly 150 connection points across the province by the end of this year, but are just steps on the way to meeting anticipated needs.

So how can the government improve the current infrastructure and get the province on track to meet the expected demand for electric vehicles?

The problem

British Columbia is currently the leading province in Canada for electric vehicle adoption, but there are still many policies and infrastructure frameworks to be developed in order to meet the province’s climate change goals.

The barriers cited in the government’s report are not unique to the province, and many of the solutions they proposed have been adopted in Alberta, California and, more recently, Massachusetts.

The study concludes: “The modeling results of the EV infrastructure planning assistant tool show that a total of 194 geographically distinct fast-charging sites (with at least two ports at each site) are required for enable safe and efficient travel in an EV through all primary sectors and secondary and major highways in the province. In September 2020, 102 sites are installed, 16 are planned and 76 are pending.

The approach to strengthening charging infrastructure should be multi-pronged, according to industry stakeholders, and include encouraging a more competitive market, education and financing.

More inclusive funding opportunities are needed

There are currently fast-charging incentives in British Columbia that take advantage of private capital and exemplify best practices in the design of financing programs. Regulations have been implemented to support utility investments in fast charging stations. However, while this will help increase the distribution of fast charging, it only includes stations funded by utility companies and excludes private charging companies.

“How we prepare the market for success today and in the future to create a robust and sustainable growth market is important to supporting BC’s climate goals,” said Suzanne Goldberg, Director of Policy audience of ChargePoint, in an interview with Autonomy Electric Canada.

Suzanne Goldberg, Director of Canadian Public Policy, ChargePoint

“Right now we are working with a good foundation and progress has been made, but the current demand-driven pricing structure does not encourage private sector investment. Traditional tariffs are a barrier to fast charging because they don’t match the use case.

Goldberg says one solution might be to institute commercial electricity tariffs only built for recharging electric vehicles. This approach reflects EV charging rates used by other jurisdictions such as California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Quebec. Some of these rates were introduced by the utility, and others at the request of the government.

In order to support the infrastructure described in the report, a strong and competitive EV charging market that encourages substantial private investment will be needed.

With reliable access to fast-charging stations being essential, especially for British Columbians on road trips, a starting point would be “for the government of British Columbia to order its utilities to introduce specific commercial rates. to the rapid recharging of electric vehicles which would help public services to cover their costs, but also encourage investments in the recharging of electric vehicles. This will help and support British Columbia in meeting its climate goals, ”said Goldberg.

Site education hosts a critical element

Before a charger can be installed, the premises must be secure, but not just anywhere. The charging infrastructure is only as efficient as its level of accessibility. But especially in urban areas, there is a shortage of available square footage.

Enter site hosts: existing businesses or landowners who allow charging stations on their property. They are essential for access to public charging in cities, but a lack of awareness among landowners could be cost opportunities.

Michael Pelsoci, Regional Sales Manager, Pacific North West at FLO
Michael Pelsoci, Regional Sales Manager, Western Canada at FLO

“Not all potential site hosts understand the future benefits of participating in the deployment of charging infrastructure, and many are not yet aware of the existing financial incentives to deploy,” said Michael Pelsoci, regional sales manager. of FLO for Western Canada, in an interview. with Autonomy Electric Canada.

“At FLO, our focus is on getting program information out to the right people, helping them through the process from application to deployment, and then making sure these stations operate reliably over the long term, because this is how we make sure is a great value for the government investment in these stations.

Leverage legislation to achieve goals

British Columbia has some of the strongest policies around adopting electric vehicles and promoting zero-emission transportation, but Tom Ashley, vice president of policy and market development at Greenlots, says Autonomy Electric Canada he believes these tools could be used more effectively when it comes to responding to pricing demands, as they would help bring together funding, awareness and a more robust competitive marketplace.

Thomas Ashley Greenlots
Thomas Ashley, Vice President of Policy and Market Development at Greenlots

“A key action the province can take is to adopt the changes to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (BC-LCFS) that the government proposed in 2019,” said Ashley. “This would unlock additional private investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and allow entities other than utilities to generate valuable credits that support the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Along with increased funding for incentives, complementary federal financial support programs and the participation, planning and targeted investments of local communities.

The availability and accessibility of fast-charging infrastructure remain high priorities for companies like Greenlots and extend across the spectrum from stakeholders to municipalities and city planners.

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