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Full electrification: the devil is in the details – from the editor, December 2021

November 28, 2021 | By Anthony Capkun

November 28, 2021 – As you flip through the pages of this edition of Electrical Business Magazine, you’ll notice news and stories about electrified boats, planes, school buses and ambulances; a solar photovoltaic microgrid in a remote First Nations community; calls for a pan-Canadian electrification strategy; digitalization and sustainability.

Things that were just ideas on paper not that long ago are now coming into existence with greater frequency, and while there are still many pilot projects being conducted to test the real-world capabilities of things like energy storage, electrified public transit, microgrids, etc., there is a palpable maturity to these initiatives, as well as their proponents.

(Which is in stark contrast to the “free-for-all” that occurred in Ontario in 2009 upon passage of the Green Energy Act.)

As we move toward that eventual day when everyone’s fuel for everything is electricity, it can only mean great news for electrical professionals. (Speaking of which, we are going to need a lot more of those in the coming years.)


But, as with anything, there’s a catch.

To electrify everything, we’re going to need a lot of batteries. And, according to S&P Global Platts, battery metals have surged in the past year, with lithium carbonate prices hitting an all-time high of $25,000/metric ton in October—an increase of more than 284% since August 2020. Across the board, nickel sulfate levels rose nearly 40%, and cobalt hydroxide climbed nearly 106% also since August 2020.

And then there is the massive build-out of new infrastructure that will be required to enable full electrification. Considering how long it takes projects of any significance to pass environmental assessment, “net zero by 2050” seems a long shot… though not impossible.

We will explore these issues and more at EBPowerCon 2022 in January, and I hope to see you there. Meantime, all the best to you and yours this holiday season!

— Anthony Capkun, acapkun@ebmag.com.

This feature—plus more great content—appears in the December 2021 edition of Electrical Business Magazine. Even more back issues are located in our Digital Archive.

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