A $17.3 million network of 34 fast-charging stations for electric vehicles will be installed along the Trans-Canada Highway to encourage Canadians to adopt zero-emissions vehicles.
The network is unique because vehicles will be charged by a lithium-ion battery storage system and not directly by energy from the power grid. The system will recharge the battery storage units during off-peak times, such as overnight, reducing users’ costs and stress to the grid.
The federal government and a trio of energy storage companies are paying for the project, which spans parts of Ontario and Manitoba.
Natural Resources Canada is giving an $8 million “repayable contribution” toward development of the network.
Jim Carr, Canada's minister of natural resources, said the federal government wants to make EVs “an easy choice for Canadians.”
The remaining private investment comes from three companies, including Toronto’s eCAMION, which specializes in community energy storage and EV charging stations. Its customers include General Motors and FCA. The others are Leclanché North America of Dallas and SGEM Group of Geneva, which develop energy storage solutions for mass transportation and battery storage infrastructure.
Each station will have large-format lithium-ion batteries and three outlets so a trio of EVs can charge at once. All of the stations will have a 480-volt system that offers Level 3 charging or higher, allowing drivers to charge their vehicles in just 20 minutes. The Level 2 chargers typically found in homes, parking garages and other municipal sites use a 240-volt system that takes between eight and 10 hours to charge a vehicle.
“Vehicles will be able to power up during peak hours using off-peak energy and continue on their journey in a relatively similar amount of time it would take to fuel a fossil-fuel vehicle, grab a snack and visit a bathroom,” Bryan Urban, executive vice president of Leclanché North America, said in a news release.
Officials didn’t immediately say how much a driver would have to pay to use the stations.
Carr said Canada recognizes “the key role electric vehicles will play in reducing emissions from the transportation sector.”
The project is also designed to relieve so-called range anxiety. The existing grid infrastructure sometimes isn’t adequate to support faster charging in some regions of the country. That makes it difficult for EV drivers to travel long distances and is often cited as one of the biggest obstacles globally to EV adoption.
“This strategic investment brings us closer to having a national, coast-to-coast network of electric-vehicle charging stations,” Carr said.
The 34 stations will be installed about 100 kilometres apart along 3,000 km of the Trans-Canada Highway, spanning Ontario and Manitoba. The project is scheduled to be finished by the first quarter of 2019.
According to a report released by the International Energy Agency in June, Canadians bought 6,360 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and 5,220 battery electric vehicles in 2016. That equates to 0.59 per cent of the 1.95 million vehicles sold in Canada last year.