Canada Reaches 66% Renewables Generated Electricity

Renewable Energy In Canada

Renewables based electricity generation is doing pretty well in Canada, eh?

A new report from Canada’s National Energy Board shows the nation generated around two-thirds of its electricity from renewable energy sources in 2015.

The renewables-based electricity was primarily from hydro (60 per cent of overall generation), followed by wind (4%), biomass (2%) and solar (.5%).

Canada’s level of hydro-power output accounted for 10 per cent of global generation in 2015 says the report, placing it second only to China. In 2015, Canada had installed hydro capacity of 79,313 MW that cranked out a whopping 385,500 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

“Canada’s hydro generation has allowed the country to be one of the global leaders in renewable energy for years,” said Shelley Milutinovic, the National Energy Board’s Chief Economist. “Now, as solar, wind and other technologies become more cost competitive, we expect to see a continuing increase in their adoption in the future.”

In relation to solar power, here’s some more statistics from the Energy Board:

  • Installed capacity: 2,135 MW
  • Share of Canada’s capacity: 1.5%
  • Share of Canada’s generation 0.5%
  • Electricity generated 3,007 GWh
  • Generation growth from 2005 to 2015: 2,344%

98 per cent of that capacity was installed in a single province; Ontario. While it’s been a sluggish start for solar power in the country, the Board notes solar projects have been developing rapidly in recent years; with close to 2,000 MW of capacity added since 2013.

One of the major barriers to the uptake of solar energy in Canada has been cost, with wind power still being significantly cheaper. Looking ahead, a report from the National Energy Board last year only sees solar making up 3% of capacity in 2040; but solar has delivered surprises in other countries and may well do so in Canada as well.

Regardless, the ascent of renewables in the country is helping to push coal out the door – last year, Canada announced plans to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030. In Ontario it’s already happened, with the last coal-fired plant shuttered in 2014.

More recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated he’s still committed to a carbon tax.

The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several aspects of Canada’s energy industry. Its full report, “Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources”, can be viewed here (PDF).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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