Canada has ambitious targets to shift the country’s heavy-duty transportation sector away from gas and diesel to non-emitting trucks and buses. But to do that, the country needs a robust national network of charging and hydrogen fuelling stations.

To help with the transition, the Pembina Institute, with support from FedEx, has started a project to assess EV charging needs and grid readiness in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

The Grid Readiness Project, a collaborative research and analysis effort between the Pembina Institute and the Rocky Mountain Institute, aims to release a charging infrastructure action plan for the GTHA. The plan will help decision-makers identify optimal locations for commercial freight charging and fuelling stations, along with estimates of anticipated energy loads.

“We've been witnessing the gradual shift to fleet electrification, which is likely going to go into overdrive in less than 10 years. This means enormous changes in the types of trucks and buses on the road and the infrastructure needed to power these vehicles,” said Adam Thorn, transportation director of the Pembina Institute, in a statement. “Given the timelines, planning for charging locations and energy demand needs to happen as soon as possible and decisions need to be data-driven.”

In 2022, the transportation sector was the second largest planet-warming emitter in Canada, accounting for about 25 per cent of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada is aiming for 35 per cent in total sales of non-emitting medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030, reaching 100 per cent by 2040.

If the federal government's sales targets are fully and promptly met, Canada will have up to 180,000 electric trucks and buses on the road by 2030 and over one million by 2040, the Pembina Institute estimates. However, the most recent data shows zero-emitting medium- and heavy-duty vehicles currently constitute a mere 3.7 per cent of total sales of new vehicles in Canada, the report said.

The Pembina Institute said fleet operators are moving to low-carbon and electric commercial vehicles but the uptake will stall if there are insufficient charging and fuelling stations.

“Utilities and energy regulators are only now beginning to make planning decisions that will address the steep increase in energy demand from zero-carbon road transportation,” read a statement from the Pembina Institute. The research will use a new data platform to inform utilities, energy regulators and others about how best to build the new infrastructure.

To steer the country’s heavy-duty transportation sector away from gas and diesel to non-emitting trucks and buses, Canada needs a robust network of charging and hydrogen fuelling stations. #EV #hydrogen #GTA #Toronto

According to the institute's modelling, 76,500 private and public chargers will be needed in Canada by 2030 for all small-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. That number will rise to at least 500,000 by 2050. Hydrogen fueling stations may need to increase from 2,000 in 2030 to 30,000 in 2050.

Pembina will work with municipalities, industry stakeholders and policymakers to assess grid readiness and recommend next steps, the statement added.

FedEx Express Canada has over 1,000 low-emission vehicles globally and aims to transform its entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet to zero-emissions vehicles by 2040.

“Fleet electrification is a key pillar of the FedEx roadmap to carbon-neutral operations by 2040 and our commitment to deliver a more sustainable future for all,” said Dean Jamieson, vice-president of operations.

If sales targets of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are met in full and on time, emissions in Canada will drop by two-thirds by 2050. The demand for oil would also plummet 80 per cent by 2050, compared to 2020 levels, the report said.

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"But to do that, the country needs a robust national network of charging and hydrogen fuelling stations."
Erm, no, just charging stations. When it comes to land transportation, hydrogen is a stupid dead end.

One thing to keep in mind about this transition is that by the time the fleet gets up into the 50% non-emitting range, things could speed up rather abruptly. Basically, at a certain point gas stations will be losing money, and will start to close. Routes could start to become unusable for diesel trucks because there's no gas, forcing anyone shipping by those routes to use electric. Or, the gas stations will jack up prices to avoid losing money (even though the price of crude will be low), and that would also accelerate the transition. Either way, you get to a tipping point where things speed up.

I saw my first electric 5-tonne commercial delivery truck last week. Quiet and no diesel fumes. EVs pertain to private cars in most people's minds, but we shouldn't downplay the importance of moving commercial freight in our cities with electricity.

I don't have an EV yet but I have been checking out the charging networks. They all require one to have an account. You have to either have a smartphone app or a membership card. They don't just take debit or credit cards. Imagine if you could not buy gas for your current car without having an account for each different chain you buy gas at. This is crazy.

Yes, I agree. The charging station systems need to get with the times. Historically, fitting them was mechanically laborious, chargers were not equipped to share their network connection and payment backends didn't have existing integrations to charge point management systems. And of course, there are the dc and cc fees. Many of these hurdles were overcome in the UK in late 2020, when the government ruled that all new electric car charge points must take credit or debit cards. This technology may also become redundant with time as charging with an app or built-in authentication will mean you can pull up to a station, charge and payment will be made automatically.