FORMULA ELECTRIC HAS A SPONSOR, HYDRO-QUÉBEC, HERE'S WHY
By Cori Marshall
This story is brought to you in part by Energy Systems & Designs
A Legend in Microhydropower
The existence of the e-Prix circuit is a testimony to the changing attitudes towards Electric Vehicles (EV). Government subsidies and demand are driving innovation. Hydro-Québec, sponsor of the Montréal e-Prix, along with their partners have developed the EV charging network in Québec. The provincial Crown Corporation is involved in Research and Development (R&D) on numerous pilot projects placing Québec among the leaders in this emerging transportation sector.
Louis-Olivier Batty, Public Affairs and Media Advisor with Hydro-Québec, said that the "Electric Circuit provides the assurance and security for electric [vehicle] drivers," who drive long distances.
Electric Circuit is the name given to the network of EV recharging stations across the province. The project was launched at the end of March 2012, and only counted thirty stations at the end of that year. Batty confirmed that the network is now comprised of approximately "950 charging stations across Québec."
The province has come a long way in developing the network for electric vehicles, the Electric Circuit program has commissioned an average of 190 charging stations a year. An EV network expansion on this scale would require a massive investment. Batty explained that none of this would be possible without the 185 project partners, they "are the ones who are really paying for the charging stations."
Most if the charging stations in Québec offer a standard 240-volt charge, while "80 [stations] will offer a fast-charge," or 400 volts. The fast-charge stations are located along the major highways in the province. Batty said that it is now "possible for someone to drive from Gatineau in the Outaouais Region to Gaspésie."
It is possible to travel without worry from east to west in Québec, though there are still some regions that are not well covered such as Abitibi-Témiscamigne and the Côte-Nord.
In comparison, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website states the province is "investing nearly $20 million from [the] Green Investment Fund to build almost 500 electric vehicle charging stations at over 250 locations," this was intended to be finished by March 31, 2017. When the network is complete it will be made up of "over 200 level 3 ‘fast chargers’ and close to 300 level 2." Most of the charging stations either in place or proposed are located in Southern Ontario.
Hydro-Québec is not only focused on developing a network of recharging stations, the company is developing new materials for batteries which will improve performance, reduce costs, and improve safety. Hydro-Québec, they have been developing "battery materials for the last 40 years." One of the first batteries that the provincial crown corporation worked on was the Lithium Ion Battery, and "the second generation that we developed was the Lithium Metal Polymer Battery." The latter can be found in in the Bluecar car-sharing service in France.
Hydro-Québec is currently developing a solid state battery which Batty suggests "could allow for 600 to 800 kilometres of [battery] autonomy."
Electrified public transit is also a big part of the company’s focus. They are part of the City Mobility Pilot Project in partnership with the Socié té de Transport de Montréal (STM), three fully electric buses are in operation along the 36 - Monk bus route. The R&D department has also developed the TM4 Motive electric motor which has been installed in school buses in the Saint-Jérome area.
Like many other governments, the Québec government subsidises the purchase of EVs, it is no wonder that the Québec EV network is so developed, the province "represents half of the electric vehicle sales in Canada." Developing new technology in the harsh winter climate of Québec and Canada makes sense as new technologies can be tested in conditions that mimic any condition on the planet. Being the Metropolis of the Province that is a leader in EV technology, Montréal is the right place to host the Formula - e.