A recent spike in electric vehicle sales in B.C. is part of a global trend that saw 5.1 million EVs sold last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
That's not including two-wheeled electric vehicles (scooters, e-bikes, etc.), or low-speed electric, which was about 5 million in 2018, with sales mostly in China.
"Good news – the number of electric cars on the road continues to grow," said Mechthied Worsdoffer, the IEA’s director of sustainability, technology and outlooks."The electric car deployment since the early 2010 decade was really fast."
The IEA’s new Global Electric Vehicles Outlook projects global EV sales to hit 22 million by 2030, under its new policies scenario, which assumes no policy changes. That would bring the total number of EVs on the road in the world to 130 million.
Under a more aggressive EV@30 policy scenario, which would include enhanced government policies and incentives, total EVs globally could be as high as 210 million electric cars, or 250 million electric vehicles, counting e-buses and other electric vehicles.
There are currently more than 1 billion vehicles in the world, so if the IEA’s projections hold true, that means that 10% to 20% of the world’s vehicles could be electric by 2030.
Worsdoffer was one of the speakers at a global clean energy conference – the Clean Energy Ministerial – which is holding its annual conference in Vancouver this week.
The CEM conference annually gathers the world’s energy ministers to discuss policies aimed at accelerating clean energy transitions.
Worsdoffer said the three most important factors driving EV adoption is government policies (such as EV subsidies and zero emission vehicle mandates), technology improvements (including falling battery costs) and charging infrastructure.
The evidence for the efficacy of government incentives was witnesses recently here in B.C. Once a new federal EV subsidy kicked in on May 1, the New Car Dealers Association of BC reported a spike in applications for a stackable provincial subsidy. As a result, an estimated 1,300 EV orders were placed in just two weeks.
Assuming the new policies scenario, EV adoption would decrease global greenhouse gas emissions by 225 million tonnes, Worsdoffer said, though she added that the GHG reductions from EVs varies from country to country, depending on how it gets it electricity.
Canada overall has generally clean power, thanks to large-scale hydro in B.C., Manitoba and Quebec, and nuclear power in Ontario.
Most of the world’s EV adoption has been in passenger cars, and is led by China, which accounts for 45% of the adoption, Worsdoffer said. The next biggest potential market – the “low hanging fruit” – is urban buses.
China is leading the way in electric bus adoption, with 460,000 now in use in China, and 90,000 new ones sold in 2018. There are roughly 250,000 electric light duty commercial vehicles on the road.
Merran Smith, executive director for Clean Energy Canada, said transportation accounts for 25% of Canada's GHG emissions, of which the freight sector accounts for 10%. It's one of the more challenging sectors to decarbonize.
"What we're seeing is that, while passenger emissions are projected to go down, by 2025, the freight emissions are going to surpass the passenger emissions, "she said. "They're going up."
Because of the long distance heavy duty trucks travel, it was suggested that the long-haul freight sector may be less likely to transition to battery power, and instead more likely to switch to other fuel sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells, although there is still a barrier there in a lack of country-wide fueling infrastructure.