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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Canadian roadmap for electric vehicles

A roadmap containing a series of recommendations and strategic initiatives to help in the evolution of electric vehicles (EV) in Canada was formally presented to Natural Resources Canada Minister Lisa Raitt, on 28 September 2009. It calls for the combined efforts of governments and industry to achieve the timely and effective commercialization of electric vehicles. The report adds that consideration should be given to the supplementing of federal and provincial mechanisms to promote the development, public acceptance and procurement of personal and commercial EVs, and also the installation of charging infrastructure.

As per the estimates there will be at least 500,000 personal and commercial vehicles that rely exclusively or primarily on electric traction on Canadian roads by 2018.

The roadmap outlines 21 strategic initiatives, which touch on the areas of technology, standards and regulations, studies and assessments, education and outreach. One of the proposed technology initiatives calls on governments and the private sector to demonstrate vehicle use in real-world operation to assess the reliability and durability of energy storage and other components in Canadian settings. Educationally, the report proposes assessing the resource requirements for training, education and certification in skills related to the emerging EV industry.

As with all new technologies, the cost at the beginning is higher and because of the environmental and economic benefits of these vehicles, it makes sense for governments to offer financial incentives in the early stages. Once the sale volumes reach larger numbers, the unit costs will go down. There are no such incentives at the federal government level in Canada at this time as compared to other developed industrialized nations.

It is equally important to provide support to the battery industry to further research, develop more rapid manufacturing techniques and to generally advance the state of the art of batteries. The new battery technology - lithium ion, for example - is evolving and has not yet been demonstrated over long periods of time.