With higher taxes at the fuel pumps and an already strong interest in electric vehicles in the Red Deer area, the future is bright in the region.
William York, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta, said about 500 out of the roughly 10,000 electric vehicles registered in Alberta are in and around Red Deer.
“In the Red Deer area there’s actually quite a few. You’re ahead of Lethbridge which is kind of the measuring stick for Red Deer,” York said.
And if the number of electric hybrids were known support may be even higher, but they weren’t identified in the province’s March 2023 statistics, he said.
Gasoline Alley and Red Deer are where Highway 2 motorists charge their vehicles, which is an essential service in the winter when cold temperatures reduce the range of EVs, he said.
“Red Deer is actually a great spot. There are fast chargers there that Edmontonians and Calgarians rely on when they’re heading between the two major cities. They get you back on the road within 10 to 20 minutes, depending on what EV you’re driving.”
York said a proposal for solar power electric vehicle charging station in Red Deer County just south of the Junction 42 truck stop at Highways 2 and 42 east of Penhold means energy technologies in the area may expand.
Gasoline Alley may need a new name, he added.
“Maybe it should be called Energy Alley or something like that.”
York said EV sales in Alberta aren’t as brisk as provinces that offer EV rebates, but Alberta isn’t in last place either.
“In terms of provinces that have never had a rebate, Alberta is doing better than every other province. We call ourselves ‘the best of the rest.’”
He said with the recent increase in fuel costs, more Albertans will look at switching to EVs.
“It’s much, much cheaper to drive an electric vehicle. Even using fast chargers, it’s less than half the price of a tank of gasoline. Charging at home is roughly one/fifth the cost of a tank of gasoline.”
He said the recent availability of EV pickup trucks has increased sales, along with more affordable prices for EVs. Maintenance costs are about 50 per cent less over the lifetime of the vehicle compared to gas-powered motors, and EV batteries now last longer and the cold does not impact battery longevity.
“It’s quite a misconception that the battery needs to be replaced after five or 10 years. What we’re seeing now is that the battery will actually outlive the body of the vehicle so the battery technology has come a long way.”
He said Canada’s focus on EVs does not mean Albertans won’t be able to use their gas or diesel-powered vehicles past 2035, and they will be able to purchase gas/diesel hybrid vehicles. It will not spell doom for Alberta’s economy. Electric vehicles still have plastic and rubber components, and Alberta electricity is predominately powered by natural gas.
York said work underway by the company E3 Lithium Ltd. to look at extracting lithium for EV batteries from the Leduc Aquifer, which runs from Edmonton to Calgary, means Alberta could not only be a leader in oil and gas, but also in the critical minerals required for energy transition.
The Calgary-based company opened Alberta’s first lithium production plant east of Olds last September designed to test the technology used to most efficiently extract lithium from brine deep underground and process it into a battery-ready product.
The data collected is expected to lay the groundwork for commercial-sized operations that could one day produce up to 150,000 tonnes of lithium a year, enough for the batteries of 2.2 million electric vehicles.
“Maybe Alberta doesn’t need to be a this or that province. Maybe it can be a this and that province.”