Canada is currently generating nearly two-thirds of its electricity from renewable energy sources, according to a new report released by the National Energy Board (NEB), an independent federal regulator of several parts of the country’s energy industry.
Accounting for 55% of total installed capacity and 58% of generation, hydro is the dominant source of electricity in Canada, says the report. Specifically, four provinces and one territory – British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Yukon – derive more than 85% of their power from hydro.
Non-hydro renewable power capacity has experienced significant growth across Canada in the past decade, the report notes. In particular, wind capacity has increased 20 times, and solar capacity has increased 125 times.
Despite the growth, says NEB, the combined capacity of wind, solar and biomass was still only 11% of total Canadian capacity in 2015. However, in 2005, non-hydro renewables comprised just 2%.
Ontario leads Canada in wind power capacity (more than 4 GW) and solar capacity (more than 2 GW). Between 2005-2015, Ontario’s share of renewable power production rose from 23% to 34%, and Nova Scotia’s doubled from 12% to 24%. In addition, Alberta’s generation from renewables increased 66% from 2005 to 2015.
“Canada’s wind and solar power capacity has increased dramatically in the past decade, due to the support of various policies and programs,” said Shelley Milutinovic, chief economist for NEB. “The country now ranks second in the world in hydropower generation and fourth in the world in renewable generation.”
In addition, the report says, a total of 11% of Canada’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions now come from the electricity sector. From 2000 to 2014, emissions from electricity generation declined 40%, due primarily to the phase-out of coal in Ontario and GHG-reduction initiatives in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
NEB notes that further growth in the country’s renewable sector faces challenges such as cost concerns, local opposition, low growth in electricity demand and the long operating life of existing facilities.
The full report can be downloaded here.