OTTAWA, April 28 /CNW/ - The recent spike in gasoline prices, if they
persist, could favour the purchase of motor vehicles that use
alternative fuels. In order to maximize the use of these fuels, there
will need to be substantial changes in fuelling technologies and in the
practices of motorists who drive them.
A new Conference Board of Canada report for its Centre for Clean Energy,
Are We Ready to Step Off the Gas? Preparing for the Impacts of
Alternative Fuel Vehicles, concludes that, in addition to assessing vehicle costs and environmental
benefits, policy-makers need to consider more than the cost of the
vehicles and their effects on the environment. They also should assess
how the use of these vehicles will affect public infrastructure,
government finances and environmental and energy policies.
"The high purchase price of these vehicles compared with conventional
vehicles and the lack of infrastructure to serve them have limited
their use," said Len Coad, Director, Energy, Environment and Technology
Policy. "Widespread adoption will happen only when an improved vehicle
with superior environmental performance is available at a comparable
cost and minimal additional inconvenience."
High gasoline prices may draw motorists' attention to vehicles that use
alternative sources of energy, but the transition is also being driven
by demand on the transportation sector to improve its environmental
"Transportation is currently responsible for 27 per cent of Canada's
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with personal and light-duty vehicles
alone accounting for 12 per cent. Indeed, the Canadian transportation
sector has a major role to play in the transition to clean energy in
Canada," said Coad.
The report assesses the public-policy implications of six broad
categories of technologies:
internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles using conventional fuels
(currently more than 90 per cent of all vehicles in Canada);
ICE vehicles using renewable fuels;
vehicles fuelled by natural gas;
hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles;
full battery electric vehicles (BEV); and
hydrogen electric vehicles.
Internal combustion engine vehicles using renewable fuels, such as
ethanol, have the advantage of an increasing fleet of flex-fuel
vehicles (which can burn fuel with up to 85 per cent ethanol) on the
road, but they are disadvantaged by a lack of infrastructure needed to
deliver high-blend fuel.
Alternative fuel vehicles, such as BEV, exhibit significantly better
environmental performance than ICE vehicles. However, the current
upfront cost premiums exceed the savings from greater energy
The most promising vehicle technologies face different challenges. The
global oil market determines the availability and price of fuel for
gasoline and diesel vehicles. Due to the reduced range of plug-in
hybrid electric and full battery electric vehicles, charging stations
and battery replacement stations (where instead of filling with gas, a
spent battery is replaced with a charged battery) will be required, or
motorists will have to reduce the distance that can be travelled.
Israel and Japan are implementing battery replacement stations as a
solution to the range restrictions of battery powered vehicles.
Policy makers will want to consider infrastructure requirements,
environmental impacts, and the relative cost of alternative fuel
vehicles as they design rebates, subsidies, or other incentives. One of
the environmental impacts is the potential for reduced GHG emissions.
The report finds that, based on today's technologies, improvements in
conventional ICE vehicle efficiency have the lowest abatement costs,
followed by next-generation renewable fuels, hybrids, plug-ins and
hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The report from the Centre for Clean Energy is available at www.e-library.ca.
Launched in 2009 by The Conference Board of Canada, the Centre for Clean
Energy will study and report on means to design and manage a transition
toward clean energy systems built around selected "pathways" that
integrate supply, transmission, and end use of energy.
SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA
For further information:
Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 448