In Automotive School? Discover How Canada’s Department Of National Defense Is Embracing Electrification

Climate change has been described as a truly existential threat. The challenges posed by climate change to global peace and stability are multifold and escalating: from conflicts ignited by diminishing water resources and hunger crises; to the emergence of climate refugees and territorial disputes; to the emergence of novel threats to national sovereignty as experienced by Canada due to melting Arctic sea ice. Additionally, the increasing need for humanitarian aid in the wake of climate-fuelled catastrophes like severe flooding and widespread wildfires further adds to this expanding catalog of climate-related concerns.

Combating this looming danger requires concerted efforts from significant bodies and corporations, including the military, who themselves are significant contributors to climate change. Recognizing the need to modernize its fleet and equipment and also reduce its carbon footprint, Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) has outlined an ambitious electrification plan. 

This is particularly noteworthy for automotive school students who are poised to be key players in this transition. This blog post provides an overview of how Canada’s DND is embracing electrification.

An Ambitious Plan

As you’ll discover in automotive school, the DND has set a goal to ensure that by the end of 2023, half of its operational fleet within Canada will be comprised of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs). In this context, the DND has expressed a keen interest in advancements in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) technology. However, they are still in the initial phases of this progression and presently don’t have any electric combat vehicles in operation. Yet, even these preliminary steps provide intriguing insights into the queries being posed and the partners they are collaborating with in this venture.

Automotive School graduate holding electrical charging unit in front of light weight commercial fleet vehicles
The military has formulated a series of specific strategies and objectives to facilitate the transition to net-zero emissions including the purchase zero-emission or hybrid commercial light-duty fleet vehicles.

The military has formulated a series of specific strategies and objectives to facilitate the transition to net-zero emissions. These efforts include purchasing zero-emission or hybrid commercial light-duty fleet vehicles, pursuing sustainable aviation fuels for the military fleet, and improving energy efficiency at deployed camps.

In marine operations, they’re acquiring more energy-efficient ships and retrofitting existing vessels with improved lighting systems. They are also transitioning to lower-emission fuels and experimenting with innovative technologies aimed at reducing humidity and minimizing energy consumption for air conditioning on board ships.

The Story So Far

The DND released its “Defence Energy and Environment Strategy” in 2020. This document outlines strategies for emissions reduction, energy conservation, and improved energy efficiency across all operations. The DND pledged to decrease emissions from its infrastructure and light-duty vehicle fleet to 40% of 2005 levels by 2030 and is poised to achieve this objective five years ahead of schedule.

By 2021, 34% of the DND and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) non-combat light-duty vehicles were either electric or gas-electric hybrids, as you’ll discover in hybrid and electrical mechanic training. Further, nearly three-quarters of the electricity consumed on military bases was generated from renewable sources. This latter percentage is projected to reach a full 100% by the year 2025.

Electronic Dial as seen in Automotive School indicating the intent to decrease CO2 emissions
Canada’s Department of National Defense pledged to decrease emissions from its infrastructure and light-duty vehicle fleet to 40% of 2005 levels.

Automotive School Improving Energy Efficiency At Its Bases

The department is currently evaluating energy consumption across bases, with the objective of optimizing the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. For new constructions, automatic lighting will be implemented, and older structures are slated for similar retrofitting. In addition, the electricity for bases will be sourced from renewable energy.

The DND’s flagship net-zero building, located at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training Facility in Gagetown, New Brunswick, is capable of operating off-grid. Powered by a solar field and a battery storage system, it utilizes geothermal energy for heating. Concurrently, enhancements to 81 structures at the 2nd Canadian Division Support Base in Valcartier, Quebec, “will reduce over a quarter of Valcartier’s emissions,” Defence Minister Anita Anand declared in 2022.

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