Though it’s primarily a result of its hydro production, Canada generates a larger share of its electricity from renewable sources than most other developed economies in the world, according to a new report released by the country’s National Energy Board (NEB).
The report, “Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources,” provides direct comparisons of how Canada ranks internationally for renewable power adoption. It also covers factors that affect the uptake of each renewable source, including financial costs, reliability and environmental impacts.
According to the independent federal regulator, Canada’s electricity generation per capita is relatively high. With more than 600 TWh of electricity production in 2015, Canada generates as much electricity as countries with much larger populations, including Germany, Brazil and France. One TWh is enough to provide 80,000 homes with electricity for a year, the report says.
In 2015, Canada generated about two-thirds of its electricity from renewable sources – primarily from hydro but also from wind, biomass and solar, according to NEB.
The report says Canada generated about 60% of its electricity from hydro in 2015; this also accounted for about 10% of global generation of hydro in 2015 – placing Canada second only to China.
Further, wind generation accounted for 4.4% of Canada’s electricity generation in 2015. This ranked Canada as the seventh largest wind energy producer in the world, according to NEB.
The report also notes that every Canadian province and territory (except Nunavut) generated at least some power from wind energy in 2015.
“Canada has ample wind resources because of its diverse geography, but its cold climate poses challenges related to working conditions, road access in winter and turbine technology impacts,” the report states. It adds that from 2010-2015, though, the country’s installed wind power capacity increased by 24% each year.
“This capacity could grow further due to provincial and federal initiatives,” the report continues. “For example, Alberta’s government unveiled a new climate strategy in November 2015 that pledges to generate 30 percent of Alberta’s electricity from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and solar by 2030.”
Additionally, biomass provided about 2% of the country’s electricity generation in 2015. Internationally, biomass accounts for about 2% of global power generation and is mostly attributed to solid biomass in the form of wood pellets and chips, the report notes.
Solar power accounted for only 0.5% of Canada’s electricity generation in 2015, and 98% of it was installed in Ontario. In contrast, countries such as Italy, Greece, Germany and Spain generated at least 5% of their electricity from solar, says NEB.
“Canada’s hydro generation has allowed the country to be one of the global leaders in renewable energy for years,” comments Shelley Milutinovic, chief economist at NEB. “Now, as solar, wind and other technologies become more cost-competitive, we expect to see a continuing increase in their adoption in the future.”
The full NEB report can be downloaded here.