Two thirds of electricity in Canada now comes from renewable energy
Hydroelectricity accounts for 60% of all electricity in Canada, wind 4.4%, biomass 1.9% and solar 0.5%.
OTTAWA — Two-thirds of Canada’s electricity supply now comes from renewable sources such as hydro and wind power, the National Energy Board said in a report.
Renewable energy production jumped 17% between 2005 and 2015. The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66%, up from 60% a decade earlier.
“I think people don’t understand just how much of our generation is the renewables,” said NEB chief economist Shelley Milutinovic. “Probably very few people would know Canada produces the second most hydro in the world.”
In 2015, China produced 29% of the world’s hydroelectric power, followed by Canada at 10%.
In terms of all renewable energy, Canada ranks fourth in production, behind China, the United States and Brazil.
Hydroelectricity accounts for the majority of renewable electricity, with 60% of all electricity in Canada coming from hydro. Wind power accounted for 4.4%, biomass power was 1.9% and solar power was 0.5%.
Biomass power comes from burning organic waste such as wood pellets or methane gas produced by landfills.
Non-renewable energy accounted for the rest, with 16% coming from nuclear power, about 10% from coal and 9% from natural gas.
Ontario fully phased out its coal plants in this decade, with the last one closing entirely in 2014, dropping coal’s share of Canada’s electrical supply to 10% from 16%.
Hydro generation grew 8% between 2005 and 2015 but its overall share of the power generated in Canada remained constant at 60%.
Wind power saw the biggest growth in the decade. In 2005 Canada produced less than 2,000 gigawatt hours of wind power, which accounted for just 0.5% of all power. In 2015, it produced 20 times as much, more than 28,500 gigawatt hours, which amounted to 4.4% of power generation.
A gigawatt hour of power is the equivalent of one million kilowatt hours. A kilowatt hour of power is the amount used to burn a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours.
Canada is the seventh-largest producer of wind power in the world.
In 2005, Canada produced almost no solar power at all. In 2015 it produced more than 3,000 gigawatt hours. Ninety-eight per cent of all Canadian solar production is in Ontario, where financial incentives drove the installation of new solar power plants.
In 2015, Canada installed 600 megawatts of new solar capacity, the 10th largest increase in solar installations in the world. China, however, added 15,200 megawatts.
The cost of solar production is the main barrier to new installations.
Chris Barrington-Leigh, a professor at McGill University’s School of Environment, has done an analysis of the potential for growth in renewable energy production in Canada, said 2015 was a record year for new installations of renewable energy around the world.
He called Canada’s renewable growth “a good start” but said the aim is to get to 100%.
Electricity generation was responsible for about 80 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. Hydro, wind and solar power do not produce emissions from generating electricity, although there are emissions associated with producing and installing the equipment.
Barrington-Leigh said Canada has a lot of land without a large population, which makes it an ideal country to be able to get to 100% renewable energy.
The report notes the main barriers to expanding renewable energy is concern about the price for consumers, as well as reliability.News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016