Though Canada may be one of the world’s leading producers of fossil fuels, recent years have seen strong Canadian renewable energy statistics indicating heavy growth and the prospect of even further expansion.
Currently, Canada produces 65% of its electricity from renewable resources and 16.9% of its total energy consumption is renewable. Blessed with ample rivers and streams, hydroelectricity is by far the main source of renewable energy in Canada comprising of 55% of Canada’s total electricity output from 529 stations that produce 75,000 MW of electricity.
While hydroelectricity is already well established in Canada, the Canadian renewable energy sector definition includes wind, solar and biomass. Though they make up a much, much smaller portion of Canada’s electricity output (wind 1.6%, biomass 1.4% and solar well under 1%), wind and solar power are leading the charge in the growth of Canada’s renewable energy industry with wind power dramatically increasing from just 300 MW in 2003 to 8000 in 2013. Solar power output is expected to triple by 2025.
One of the interesting aspects of the renewable energy sector is that it often requires more labour intensive work and employs more individuals per unit of energy produced, helping to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Employment in the renewable energy industries has gone up 37% from 2009-2013 and recently, Canada’s renewable energy sector overtook the oil sands in total number of people employed currently enlisting nearly 24,000.
While Canada’s renewable energy sector targets continue to grow, they have done so without the help of any federal assistance who still favour the oil and gas industry with heavy subsidies. In fact, much of the $25 billion that has been pushed into Canadian renewable energy has come from foreign companies with two German, two Japanese and only one Canadian company making up the top five investors in Canadian renewable energy.
The primary push towards sustainable energy has come at the provincial level with British Columbia instituting laws that mandate a certain amount of power be generated from renewable resources. Ontario has developed a long term renewable energy plan and Quebec is actually exporting energy it produces from its solar and wind plants.
Though Canada may be an oil rich nation which has led it to great economic wealth and prosperity, the renewable energy sector is thriving and set for dramatic growth helping ensure Canada is an energy producer of the future.