NEW – NS: Propane-fuelled school buses far superior to electric ones

The Chronical Herald in Halifax, NS, online magazine Autogas Today plus many other publications published the CPA’s Letter to the Editor written by CPA Interim President and CEO, Allan Murphy.

Murphy wrote the letter in response to comments by Thomas Arnason McNeil of the Ecology Action Centre about the benefits of switching from diesel to electric buses, even when the electricity used to power the buses is sourced from coal. Using scientific-driven data, Murphy explained why propane buses are the better choice.  

I read with interest your Feb. 16 story, and comments by Thomas Arnason McNeil of the Ecology Action Centre about the advantages of switching from diesel to electric school buses.  

I want to make a couple of points.  

First, switching school buses from diesel to electricity is not going to reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, GHGs go up in that scenario. Why? Because according to the Canada Energy Regulator, “Nova Scotia’s primary source of electricity generation is coal, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the province’s total generation in 2018.” Electricity is also generated by burning carbon-intense fuels such as pet coke and oil. Natural gas is also used, but is comprised of about 95 per cent methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Taken together, about 75 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity comes from these fuels.  

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard, the carbon intensity of electricity produced in Nova Scotia is 245g/MJ. In all of Canada, only Nunavut’s numbers are higher. By comparison, in Quebec, the carbon intensity is 7g/MJ.  

The carbon intensity of propane is 75g/MJ. There are some renewable sources of electricity production in Nova Scotia. However, wind and solar energy are intermittent, while biomass, tidal, and hydro supply only small amounts. On a good day, a quarter of the electricity produced in Nova Scotia might be coming from renewables.  

Second, one of the advantages Mr. McNeil points to is the fact that electricity reduces tailpipe emissions. While it’s true that there is no exhaust coming from the vehicle tailpipe, the source of the electricity is still predominantly coal. So, what may pass the “eye test” is not borne out by the data.  

Read the full comment here.