A vision of electrified housing and mobility for the 21st century

Reading time: 6 minutes
3 March 2016

The Government of Québec writes about how it is developing an integrated vision of low carbon housing and mobility for the 21st century. This is part of The Climate Group's Home2025 project.

Québec's transition to a low-carbon society is powered by clean and affordable electricity, thanks to large-scale investments in hydroelectricity that it has been making since the 1960s. Québec boasts one of the lowest rates of GHG per capita in North America, and one of the highest in the world in terms of renewable electricity production and renewable energy consumption.

Thanks to this energy wealth, the complete decarbonisation of Québec's housing sector is within reach. Emissions in this sector have dropped by 47% since 1990 and now account for only 4.6% of our total emissions (2012). Electricity already supplies around 75% of our homes’ energy demand.

Clearly, Québec’s biggest mitigation challenge lies elsewhere, namely, in the transportation sector, which generates almost 45% of the province’s emissions. But GHG mitigation is by no means the only reason to focus on this sector. The fossil fuels causing these GHG emissions represent some 12 billion dollars in capital flight annually, since all petroleum products consumed in Québec are imported. Furthermore, their combustion releases fumes that affect our health and cost society hundreds of millions more in public health care expenditure.

Thankfully, in addition to its clean electricity resources, Québec can count on several assets favouring electrification of its transport sector: it possesses a strong industrial base in ground transportation, an internationally recognised expertise in electric motorisation and charging systems, plus abundant natural resources used for producing electric vehicles components.

 

Image: an electric vehicle in Québec

Transport electrification also offers the best proof that we don’t need to choose between economic growth and decarbonisation. Investing in electric vehicles (EVs) unleashes our innovation and creativity. It sets into motion a promising and future-oriented technology niche, attracting investors from across the globe. That’s why Québec has been adopting ambitious electrification action plans since 2011. These plans showcase bold and achievable targets because they come with the necessary funding, thanks to the Québec-California carbon market revenues, which Québec entirely reinvests in the fight against climate change.

Consequently, citizens have been able to benefit from up CA$8,000 (US$5,940) in financial assistance to acquire electric or hybrid vehicles; up to CA$600 (US$445) to install home charging stations; and, since 2014, financial assistance is available to help businesses, municipalities, and organizations install charging stations at workplaces.

The net results of these programs speak for themselves. Having reached more than 8,400 registered EVs in the province in 2015, Québec has become Canada’s largest electric vehicle market, and has its most extensive charging network, counting over 1 000 public charging stations. In the span of just two years, Québec quadrupled its number of electric vehicles.

And that’s just the beginning. Québec just launched its 2015-2020 transportation electrification plan. Mainly financed by the Green Fund through the implementation of the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan, this plan aims at 100 000 EVs on Québec’s roads by 2020. This will save the province from importing and burning some 66 million liters of gasoline every year. That’s a real breath of fresh air!

With regards to public transit, as part of its transportation electrification plan, the government will invest CA$156 million (US$116 million) more by 2020 to pursue the electrification of this sector where half of the journeys are in fact already powered by electricity. The Plan contains several more initiatives to boost the electrification of transportation, for example, in the taxi industry and in freight transportation.

Importantly, the Plan’s 420-million-dollars budget (US$312 million) will support the development of this cutting-edge sector, which will count over 5000 value-added jobs by 2020. As a matter of fact, we can already witness the flourishing of businesses involved in transport electrification across the province. For instance, several types of electric vehicles are already produced locally: a three-wheeler (Can-AM Spyder), a motorcycle (SORA), an urban bus (Nova Bus), a mining vehicle (Minautor), and an industrial modular vehicle (Kargo).                                    

To focus on an eloquent example, thanks to government support, children in Québec are starting to commute to school in the E-lion, a fully electric school bus with a range of 120 km and as much power as a traditional diesel bus. This project can create major economic spinoffs for Québec, since more than 70% of the component parts will be manufactured locally, and demand for this revolutionary product is bound to grow.

 

Image: an E-Lion electric bus

We see that electrification gives rise to a flurry of exciting R&D activities involving partnerships in the public and private sectors, all of which is supported by Québec’s solid research infrastructure. Dozens of firms are thus working on high-tech components used for electrification, notably on developing home charging stations—the central node in the home-to-transportation connection.

To highlight another promising endeavor, Québec’s public electricity utility, Hydro-Québec, and its partners are working on vehicles-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) power exchanges. V2G systems use electricity stored in the batteries of plug-in vehicles as a backup energy supply for electricity grids during peak periods. V2H systems, on the other hand, allow plug-in vehicle owners to use the energy stored in their batteries as a temporary home power source during outages. That’s an integrated vision of housing and mobility for the 21st century!

V2G and V2H

 

This vision will not fully materialise, however, unless the public’s enthusiasm for electrification keeps growing. That’s why the Québec government has launched a major campaign to inform citizens on the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Through various media, citizens can get practical tips on ways to reduce their carbon footprints at home and on the roads while saving money. Québec is mobilized for the fight against climate change, and electrification is part of this evolving vision for society. 

As for most other aspects of the fight against climate change, collaboration between like-minded partners can accelerate the deployment of transport electrification. Québec is fortunate to be able to count on several partners that also think that electrification must meet no boundaries.

In June 2013, Québec and Vermont inaugurated a cross-border charging corridor, which counts more than 50 charging stations between Québec’s largest city, Montréal, and Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. The governments of Québec and California have also vowed to increase collaboration in transportation electrification, and it is a key topic of Québec’s discussions with Ontario, its neighbouring province and future partner of the Québec-California carbon market.

This spirit of collaboration is spreading across the continent and beyond. Québec is a proud founding partner of the International ZEV Alliance, an organisation comprising fourteen North American and European members promoting the electrification of transportation as part of the solution to climate change. At an event held on the sidelines of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, members of the ZEV Alliance announced that they will strive to ensure that the new vehicle market in their respective jurisdictions is entirely composed of EVs by 2050.

The Government of Québec is also a proud sponsor of the next World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS), to be held in June 2016, in Montreal. EVS is the largest venue allowing global leaders from industry, government and academia to address key issues pertaining to the electrification of transportation. To make sure it fulfills its own ZEV targets, the government of Québec intends to implement a ZEV standard that will increase the availability of EVs in the province.

From whatever angle we look at it, electrification of transportations makes sense. It is good for the planet and good for our green economy. It’s what connects our homes to the kind of world we really want to live in—to the kind of world we want to leave to our children.

Throughout the world, proactive governments, at both national and subnational levels, are showing that their bold electrification policies are part of the solution.

In the 21st century, our territory must become a seamless, low-carbon space. That’s precisely where Québec is heading.  

Back to Home2025. For information please contact us at home2025@theclimategroup.org

Share
Facebook icon
Twitter icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon