Is Canada a Renewable Energy Superpower?

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mini-hydroCALGARY, Oct 14, 2016  – Canada is a world leader in renewable power and generates almost two-thirds of its electricity from renewable sources according to a new report released by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Hydro is the dominant source of electricity in Canada accounting for 55 per cent of total installed capacity and 58 per cent of its generation. Four provinces and one territory – British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador and Yukon derive more than 85 per cent of their power from hydro.

Non-hydro renewable power capacity experienced significant growth across Canada in the past decade. Wind capacity increased 20 times and solar capacity increased 125 times.

Despite the growth, the combined capacity of wind, solar and biomass was just 11 per cent of total Canadian capacity in 2015. As solar and wind produce power intermittently, non-hydro renewables accounted for just seven per cent of total Canadian generation.

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Canada’s wind and solar power capacity has increased dramatically in the past decade due to the support of various policies and programs. The country now ranks second in the world in hydro power generation and fourth in the world in renewable generation,” said Shelley Milutinovic, Chief Economist, National Energy Board.

A total of 11 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) come from the electricity sector. From 2000 to 2014, emissions from electricity generation declined 40 per cent due primarily to the phase-out of coal in Ontarioand GHG-reduction initiatives in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Further growth in renewable power faces challenges such as cost concerns, local opposition, low growth in electricity demand, and the long operating life of existing facilities.

Quick facts:

  • In the hydro-rich areas of Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador, more than 90 per cent of electricity comes from renewables.
  • Between 2005-15, Ontario’s share of renewable power production rose from 23 to 34 per cent while Nova Scotia’s doubled from 12 to 24 per cent.
  • In 2005, non-hydro renewables comprised just two per cent of total Canadian power capacity. By 2015 that number had grown to 11 per cent.
  • Canada’s annual GHG emissions from the power sector declined 40 per cent from 2010-14.
  • Ontario leads Canada in wind power capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts and solar capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts.
  • NWT now uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fuel one of its power plants. LNG reduces GHG emissions by about 25 per cent compared to diesel.
  • Alberta’s generation from renewables increased 66 per cent from 2005 to 2015.
  • By 2030, Saskatchewan plans to achieve 50 per cent of its power capacity from renewable sources.

Associated links: Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape

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