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UBC Theses and Dissertations

High potential : how a framework of criteria for an integrated energy system can initiate a sustainable electricity grid and transportation system Elias, Arnold Lindsay


We are facing a global crisis in our energy generation and transportation sectors. Coalescing environmental and social problems are caused primarily by inappropriate fossil fuel use and land-use practices. Electrification of urban vehicles can help to solve these problems in conjunction with novel policies. However, the full dimensions of integrating plug-in vehicles into existing grid and transportation systems are inadequately considered to substantially address the critical issues we face. This problem is the result of entangled economic, cultural and technological issues that have not been considered in an integrated manner, together with the varying potential of emerging vehicle technologies. Technologies must meet social uptake and socio-environmental needs as well as the usual economic, efficiency and emissions requirements. I contend that evaluating the electricity grid and the transportation system as an integrated energy system can lead to increased efficacy of renewable energy solutions and help to avoid inappropriate policy and investment choices. I advance a framework of critical attributes to identify the enabling technologies required to sustainably integrate the electricity grid and transportation system. The alternative, I maintain, is a monolithic and disconnected system that will be expensive and ultimately unsustainable. In this dissertation I consider the transportation pathways that lead towards a sustainable energy system. Two important systems emerge from the comprehensive requirements for an integrated and sustainable energy system: the hydrogen fuel cell and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle model. I utilize economic, social and environmental criteria to compare these two approaches to identify the appropriate technology pathway. The result, from a transportation perspective, is a credible path towards a sustainable energy system. My analysis shows that a plug-in model demonstrates crucial techno-economic, social and environmental advantages over the hydrogen model. Utilizing an appropriate policy structure, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle model, in combination with intelligent grid systems, can initiate a cultural paradigm shift that can naturally evolve into a sustainable and integrated energy system.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International