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Quebec's mega EV plans

04 October 2011
Quebec's mega EV plans

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group. 

October 4, 2011. 

I have been in Quebec, Montreal and Toronto for a while discussing the Quebec state plans for EV deployment.

OK, so every happening government has got a plan for EVs,  but there are a few mega interesting issues that are both ambitious and really quite different with these guys...

The real headline-hitting one that stands out for me, is the integration of transport in a complete vision. Again, some people are thinking about this, but Quebec aims are to make 95% of all public transport journeys within Montreal to be by electric by 2030 from a current base of 55% (mostly Metro and one of the five commuter train lines).

So 2030 is a long time away, but electrifying four train lines, bringing in electric bus ways and fleets into commission, and upgrading the metro to add further capacity is no minor task… fantastic, and something lots of other cities dream of.

Of course it is slightly easier to have both the utility (Hydro Quebec) and the public transport under public control, but it is still a major and credit worthy plan that addresses modal shift, carbon reduction policy, congestion, local air pollution, as well as reducing the regions dependency on oil.

What else was I excited about?  Well, they already have 97% of their generating capacity through hydro so it all makes massive sense. A great amount of their heating is already electric, they have soughted out long distance DC lines, they have massive amount more capacity to increase hydro if required, and they are expanding wind (for reasons that are more social than financial – it just gets better).  

So when other countries are fighting over coal plants and negotiating so they can show they are moving forward,  spare a thought for Quebec who already have a serious low level of carbon consumption, and to go further have to tackle the thorny issue of surface transport which we all know is the hardest bit!

And another phenomenon which I have talked about before which is just a given in Quebec, is energy storage. They have it in abundance - you could nearly say it is infinite in comparison to other countries and regions. And why is this so interesting? Well for me, smart grids are fraught with difficulties,  and as we tend towards ‘switching peoples fridges off periodically’ we will get close to the limit of the system with very expensive metering and technology.  I have believed for a long time that putting a damper in the system is a far better solution,  and this could be batteries in large scale, and local grids,  but the reservoir option is just a major damper system that makes smart management of the grid – relatively – easy.

The Climate Group are working closely with Quebec on their plans, and it is exciting to be here and meet such enthusiastic and committed people working in parallel with their utility company.

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