[sust-mar] Electric vehicles in Nova Scotia: An examination of availability, affordability, and acceptability issues

Larry Hughes lhughes2 at dal.ca
Fri Aug 19 05:01:27 EDT 2016

A new report by Larry Hughes for Nova Scotia Power is available at 


In December 2015, the Canadian government made a commitment to achieving 
the goals specified in the Paris Agreement at COP-21.  The most 
significant of these commitments being an agreement to reduce Canada’s 
annual greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will hold the global 
average temperature to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the 
temperature increase to 1.5°C.  Past greenhouse gas emissions reduction 
efforts by all levels of government in Canada have focused primarily on 
power generation (to reduce emissions) and the built environment (to 
reduce energy demand).  Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement means 
that these efforts must be redoubled and similar efforts will need to be 
applied to the transportation sector, given the emissions associated with 
this sector.

Road transportation emissions are of particular importance in a province 
such as Nova Scotia where they are responsible for over 19% of total 
provincial emissions.  A barrier to reducing emissions from conventional 
road vehicles has been the availability of both alternative fuels and the 
vehicles to use these fuels.  However, over the past decade, considerable 
progress has been made, especially with electric vehicles, which, if 
powered by renewable sources of electricity, can result in a reduction in 
transportation-related emissions.

This report examines some of the risks associated with the adoption of 
electric vehicles in the province of Nova Scotia through the lens of three 
energy security indicators: acceptability, availability, and 
affordability.  It shows that as Nova Scotia Power reduces its greenhouse 
gas emissions, the environmental acceptability of electric vehicles will 
increase.  While the availability of electricity is not an issue, the need 
for increased charging may be a problem during cold-weather driving and, 
should electric vehicles become popular, Nova Scotia Power will need to 
address the issue of uncoordinated electricity charging by upgrading its 
grid and implementing a smart grid.

The report also considers some of the affordability issues associated with 
electric vehicles in Nova Scotia. While the per-kilometre cost of driving 
an electric vehicle is less than that of a conventional vehicle (in part 
because of the various road and fuel taxes that electric vehicle owners do 
not pay), both the base-cost and annualized-cost of electric vehicles are 
greater than those associated with many conventional vehicles sold in the 

Other topics discussed include public perceptions of electric vehicles, 
the direct and indirect subsidization of electric vehicles, and possible 
alternatives to light-duty passenger electric-vehicles.

Larry Hughes, PhD
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2X4, Canada

v: 902.240.0245
f: 902.422.7535
e: larry.hughes at dal.ca
w: http://lh.ece.dal.ca

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