Wind energy ready to help electrify Ontario’s transportation
November 5, 2015
Driving a Tesla Model S electric vehicle for the first time, as I got a chance to do earlier this week at the first-ever Queen’s Park Electric Vehicle Day, felt a little like stepping into the future.
Sleek and modern, smooth handling and very quiet, the car gave me a glimpse into how far this kind of cutting-edge technology can take us as Ontario looks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.
The event was organized by Plug’n Drive, a non-profit electric car advocacy organization. Its goal was to raise awareness of the critical role the electrification of transportation, which right now is the largest and fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in Ontario, has to play in meeting the province’s ambitious climate targets.
Thanks to its decision to phase out coal-fired generation and increase its use of renewable energy, Ontario is in a good position to start cleaning up its transportation sector. But as demand on the electricity system increases, new generation additions will have to be very low-carbon or no-carbon, or the province risks undoing the gains it has made.
Fortunately, wind energy is a solution that is available today. There are enormous untapped wind resources across the province that are economically competitive and can be deployed quickly at whatever scale is required to match load growth. Capitalizing on that potential ensures Ontario will have the clean electricity required to enable the switch to electric vehicles, but the reverse is also true. Electric vehicles plugged into the grid serve as storage capacity and the flexibility of additional storage plays a role in integrating more renewable generation. It is fascinating to experience this transition from where we are today to where we are headed toward a grid with much higher penetration of renewables.
Studies conducted in Canada and around the world have consistently shown that fuel switching to decarbonized electricity is the single most significant pathway to achieving the kind of deep greenhouse emissions reductions that Ontario needs to make. That applies not just to transportation, but to space heating and many industrial and manufacturing processes as well. A credible climate change plan for Ontario must recognize this by targeting additional greenhouse gas emission reductions in the electricity sector and expanding the use of renewable energy sources like wind.
From the driver’s seat of a Tesla, the way forward seems very clear.