Mitsubishi i MiEV electric vehicles in Vancouver

The Province of B.C., City of Vancouver and BC Hydro welcomed three Mitsubishi i MiEV pure electric vehicles to Vancouver on Friday, November 20th. Two cars will be added to BC Hydro’s fleet of vehicles and one will be added to the City’s.

“We are very proud to demonstrate our leadership in climate-friendly transportation by having the first Mitsubishi all electric cars right here in British Columbia,” said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Province of British Columbia. “Electric vehicles like these ones, fuelled by clean, renewable energy, will help us achieve a low-carbon transportation future.”

"Vancouver is at the forefront of adopting electric vehicles, and we’re very pleased to be debuting Mitsubishi’s i MiEV in our City," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. "Supporting cleaner, more efficient forms of transportation moves us closer to our goal of becoming the world’s greenest city, and we’re very excited to partner with Mitsubishi in bringing their new electric vehicle technology to Canada."

The Province of B.C., City of Vancouver and BC Hydro signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Canada, and Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada Incorporated earlier this year to allow for the demonstration of the cars in B.C. The agreement also allows for the addition of cars as the vehicles become available.

“As we get ready for the increased use of plug-in vehicles, it is very important to know how the cars will interact with BC Hydro’s grid and what their charging requirements will be,” said Bob Elton, BC Hydro president and CEO. “The i MiEV will help us answer some of these questions while serving as a symbol of BC Hydro’s leadership in the demonstration of electric vehicles.”

"This is a first – the world’s first mass production electric car," said Tomoki Yanagawa, vice-president Sales/Marketing & Corporate Planning of Mitsubishi Motors Sales of Canada Ltd. "It’s a first for Vancouver, a first for British Columbia, a first for North America. This is history in the making."

Mitsubishi is committed to green technologies, and to leading the way in electric car development with lithium ion batteries. Mitsubishi believes that all electric vehicles are environmentally-friendly and that they have the potential to greatly change our society and our daily lives. And now as we have passed the first 100 years of mass production of the automobile, structural change of the automobile industry is being called for, in order to make a low-carbon society a reality.

BC Hydro is one of 30 utilities collaborating with the auto industry to prepare electrical infrastructure for a potential transition to electric vehicles. BC Hydro commissioned the development of guidelines for electric vehicle charging infrastructure earlier this year. In addition, BC Hydro is a key player in the local Plug-In Electric Vehicle Working Group, the development of the national electric vehicle technology roadmap and the EPRI-led utility/auto collaboration.

The City of Vancouver has been an early adopter of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Last year the city introduced new requirements for electric vehicle charging in single-family homes. This year Vancouver City Council passed a bylaw requiring new multi-family buildings to provide at least 20% of their parking spaces with electric vehicle charging capacity – a first for North America. The City is also expanding charging capacity in public parking locations.

British Columbia is a leader in climate change solutions, and the increased use of plug-in electric vehicle technology is part of a broader sustainable energy strategy that is helping the Province of British Columbia reach its goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020. In addition, plug-in electric vehicles, fuelled by B.C.’s clean energy resources, support the Province’s goal of reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 10% by 2020.

What BC Hydro is doing to prepare for plug-in vehicles

Major automakers have announced that plug-in vehicles are on the way, and early forecasts suggest that 10% to 60% of vehicles purchased by 2025 will be plug-in hybrid electric or all electric.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and more than 30 utilities, including BC Hydro, are working collaboratively with the auto industry to prepare the electrical infrastructure for a positive and seamless transition to EVs. In addition to participating in the EPRI/General Motors collaboration, BC Hydro is developing collaborations with other automakers such as Mitsubishi and Nissan.

One important piece of work stemming from BC Hydro’s involvement with EPRI is a distribution grid impact study. EPRI is developing a modeling tool that will allow BC Hydro to simulate loading from various levels of electric vehicle adoption across the distribution grid.

Using a marketing database BC Hydro will attempt to predict geographical hot spots where stressed distribution circuits coincide with customers that are inclined to adopt plug-in electric vehicles.

BC Hydro is also a member of Electric Mobility Canada (EMC), the organization coordinating the Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map initiative (evTRM) on behalf of the federal government. BC Hydro is leading the grid impact portion of the work in conjunction with Hydro-Québec.

These efforts are meant to accelerate commercialization and deployment of EVs, create a blueprint for an electric fuel infrastructure, and address issues that will help ensure safe and convenient vehicle charging, public education, and public policy.

Plug-in vehicle benefits and issues

A long-term benefit of electric vehicles is the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions, as 38% of B.C.’s emissions are attributed to transportation. A move to plug-in vehicles will also reduce the cost of fleet operations and reduce reliance on energy (fuel) imports.

The prospect of mass adoption of PHEV (and eventually EV) technology could position BC Hydro as a leading fuel supplier for the automotive sector. A potential fuel switch of this magnitude presents a number of issues for the provincial electricity grid, including:

* Long-term Impacts to transmission and generation (The rate of load growth from electric vehicles is expected to be gradual and well within BC Hydro’s planning cycles);
* Near-term Impacts on distribution infrastructure;
* Impacts on the relationship with customers and their expectations of BC Hydro as a transportation fuel supplier.

Projects and initiatives

BC Hydro has completed charging infrastructure guidelines for B.C. [PDF, 1.56 MB] , an initiative commissioned by BC Hydro and sponsored by Natural Resources Canada with the intent of facilitating consistent and safe deployment of charging infrastructure.

Numerous utility sponsored pre-commercial PHEV demonstration projects are underway around North America. These projects are typically characterised by converting existing Hybrid Electric Vehicles with aftermarket conversion kits. A smaller amount of early production PHEVs from auto makers are also being demonstrated.

PHEV Demonstration Project

BC Hydro is a founding member of the Plug-in Electric Vehicle working group, providing the technical expertise on the requirements of grid integration, vehicle charging and data collection and analysis.

Funding and leading the working group is MEMPR, which aims to build awareness and promote further electrification of the transportation sector. The group is also charged with making policy recommendations to speed the adoption of electric vehicles in B.C.

The project includes participation from individual BC Government ministries, along with local governments including Vancouver, Penticton, Kelowna and Dawson Creek.

Partnerships with automakers

BC Hydro was the first utility in Canada to announce a deal with Mitsubishi Motors to take delivery and begin road testing the iMiev (a fully electric vehicle) by the end of 2009.

Nissan LEAF zero emission vehicleOn October 6, 2009, BC Hydro, the Province of BC, the Renault–Nissan Alliance and the City of Vancouver announced a partnership that will see British Columbia become the initial launch point for Nissan’s Canadian zero-emission transportation program.

Additional initiatives

BC Hydro is planning an infrastructure demonstration project with multiple partners, including B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the City of Vancouver. The project represents the implementation of charging infrastructure guidelines with the objective of developing “best practices” for infrastructure deployment.

The best practices will address stakeholder needs such as:

* a streamlined process for permitting and installation;
* smart infrastructure designs that minimise the need for upstream infrastructure upgrades;
* insights into infrastructure deployment challenges for informing policy development for government and the utility.

The findings of the demonstration project will also help verify the guidelines and refine it into a more robust reference document.

Dockside Green, a sustainable housing development in Victoria, is exploring options to construct plug-in parking stalls as a joint demonstration project with BC Hydro.

BC Hydro and BCIT are conducting a joint Distributed Power Connections Study at BCIT’s AFRESH house, a vehicle-to-grid-ready facility.

Codes and standards

Building codes will need to be updated. For example, the City of Vancouver (CoV) has amended its building code to require dedicated circuits for EV charging in single family dwellings and multi-family dwellings.

Utilities in many jurisdictions are employing new customer service offerings including home wiring consultations to answer queries about requirements for electric vehicle charging. BC Hydro will need to ensure an appropriate level of residential service to meet this new load as well as the new demands from customers.