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Suncor completes cross-Canada electric vehicle charging network

Suncor Energy Inc. has completed a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations as Canada's biggest oil producer by volume burnishes its climate change-mitigation credentials.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company, which makes most of its money mining and processing oil sands bitumen into gasoline and refined products, has added more than 50 fast-charging units at its Petro-Canada gas stations along the Trans Canada highway, which stretches from coast to coast. The direct-current chargers can provide up to a 200-kW charge in less than 30 minutes, enough to deliver about an 80% charge to most vehicles, the company said in a Dec. 17 statement. Canada's federal government, which is responsible for the Trans Canada highway, kicked in C$4.6 million of the cost of the charging stations through its electric and alternative-fuel vehicle incentive program.

"This is an important step in meeting the current and future driving needs of Canadians," Suncor CEO Mark Little said in the statement. "We want to be part of the total solution to meet energy demand and reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation system."

Canada currently has about 100,000 electric vehicles in operation and the number is growing by about 4,000 per month, Little said. The nation's sparse population and long distances between cities have made it difficult to use the vehicles for inter-city travel because of their limited range, which can be further cramped by temperatures that can dip to negative 40 degrees F or lower in winter months. Petro-Canada is building out its network to other major corridors to boost its share of the charging market. The company said its existing chargers can be upgraded to deliver as much as a 350-kW charge.

Suncor has been working to reduce its corporate emissions with steps that include retrofitting its Base Plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta, one of the world's largest oil sands facilities, with natural gas-fired steam generators that will co-generate as much as 800 MW for the provincial power grid. The facility was previously fueled by petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil processing. The C$1.4 billion plant is expected to be in operation by the second half of 2023.