Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources – Energy Market Analysis

Introduction

The electricity industry around the world is moving towards increased renewable generation, including hydro, biomass, wind, and solar. Although these forms of generation have also increased substantially in Canada, further growth is not without challenges.

Canadian electricity prices are among the lowest in the world, making it difficult for relatively expensive non-hydro renewable sources to compete. Renewable power projects can also face public criticism and approval delays. As shown in Figure 1, Canadian electricity demand was relatively flat from 2005 to 2015. The NEB’s latest long-term energy outlook projects electricity demand to grow at an average of 0.7% per year from 2015 to 2040.

Table 1 – Renewable Electricity in Canada – Key Statistics

Table 1 – Renewable Electricity in Canada – Key Statistics
Key Statistics (2015) Renewables
Installed capacity 94 929 MW
Share of Canada’s capacity 65.6%
Share of Canada's generation 65.7%
Electricity generated 429 229 GW.h
Generation growth from 2005 to 2015 17%

Source: Canada’s Energy Future 2016: Update – Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2040

Figure 1 – Canadian Electricity Demand

Figure 1 – Canadian Electricity Demand

Source: Canada’s Energy Future 2016: Update – Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2040

Description:

This graph shows Canadian electricity demand from 2005 to 2015. Over this period, demand was relatively flat at just under 2 000 PJ.

For more information on historical growth rates for renewable power in Canada, including data for each province and territory, please see Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape.

This report, Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources, discusses major renewable technologies in greater detail, with emphasis on factors influencing their adoption rates. These include costs, technological advancements, environmental considerations, and regulatory issues. This report also compares renewable generation growth in Canada to developments in other countries.

End of winter, people stroll the shore of Lake Ontario in Burlington on a sunny day, power lines and a bridge are in the distance

Vertical photo of the CN tower at night

Table 2 – Renewable Electric Capacity and Generation in Canada

Table 2 – Renewable Electric Capacity and Generation in Canada
  Capacity in MW and % Generation in GW.h and %
  2005 2015 2005 2015
Hydro Hydro 72 859 79 313 358 387 385 500
59.7% 54.8% 59.0% 59.0%
Wind Wind 557 11 072 1 453 28 561
0.5% 7.7% 0.2% 4.4%
Biomass Biomass 1 789 2 408 7 875 12 161
1.5% 1.7% 1.3% 1.9%
Solar Solar 17 2 135 0 3 007
0% 1.5% 0% 0.5%
All renewable sources 75 222 94 929 367 716 429 229
61.6% 65.6% 60.6% 65.7%
All sources 122 065 144 608 607 007 653 183

Source: Canada’s Energy Future 2016: Update – Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2040

Hydro Hydro electricity comes from the energy in water flowing over reservoir dams or through run-of-river projects.

Wind Wind power is captured by the blades of wind turbines which spin a shaft connected to a generator.

Biomass Biomass power comes from burning organic waste.

Solar Solar energy comes from photovoltaic (PV) cells converting sunlight into electricity at the atomic level.

Electric capacity vs generation

Capacity is the maximum amount of power that a device can generate, use, or transfer. It is usually expressed in megawatts.

Generation is the process of producing electric energy by transforming other forms of energy. In this report, generation is commonly used to refer to the amount of energy actually produced.

 

 

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