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Canadian Renewable Energy Report Card

Yesterday we talked a bit about a potential renewable energy record in Ontario. The ensuing discussion turned to comparing the various provinces in Canada. This included how the country is doing as a whole, and how a high-watermark-style record doesn’t really capture how much various power sources contribute to Canada’s renewable power generation. This got me thinking.

I decided to dig into the progress of my large and cold nation, to discover how much renewable energy we generate, and how various technologies are growing. To do this, I rely on the IEA data supplied by NRCan.

Canadian Renewable Energy Market Share

First, the good news:

Turns out Canada has a lot of hydro resources. In the last decade, hydro has averaged around 60% of market share in Canada. That’s pretty epic! Almost entirely because of these renewable energy resources, Canada produced almost three times as much renewable energy in 2012 than Germany did.

Canadian Renewable Energy Market Share

You can see in the graph, somewhere around 2005, we start making some progress. Prior to that, it’s basically just hydro bouncing around depending on how much rain we got that year. But there is a clear trend starting around 2005 and going forward to 2012. What’s going on there? Let’s dig into that!

Solar Market Share

The obvious next place to check is solar. Solar has been doing fairly well, right? In fact, solar has gone from a mere 16 GWh in 2000 to 332 GWh in 2012. That’s a 2000% increase in 12 years! However, placed in context against the entirety of Canadian consumption, it’s relatively trivial, unfortunately. Here’s a graph of solar market share in Canada:

Solar Power Market Share

So, while the overall market share is low, it is growing very, very fast. You can clearly see the knee in the graph in 2008. Once solar hits grid parity in Canada, there will be another knee in that graph, and solar will take off with real market share.

So, if solar doesn’t explain the gain in renewables, what does?

Wind Power

Turns out, the real success story for renewable energy in Canada is wind power. Wind power has grown from 264 GWh in 2000 to 11,310 GWh in 2012, a 4000% increase in 12 years! Furthermore, that is enough to make a significant difference in the amount of renewable energy Canada generates. Here’s the market share of wind from 2000 to 2012:

Wind Power Market Share

Wind has gone from a trivial amount in 2000 to nearly 2% of all electricity generated in Canada in the span of 12 years. Furthermore, the curve it shows is exponential! Wind power is growing massively, and we have every reason to believe that trend will continue.

Conclusion

Canada has a lot of renewable energy, but that’s mostly because of a lot of awesome hydro resources. That being said, we’re starting to see significant growth in wind power, and solar power is starting to take off. As solar and wind continue to fall in price, we can expect that the solar and wind market share will continue to grow aggressively.

 
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Written By

is an EV evangelist, and general automotive enthusiast. His engineering background means he tends to nerd out a bit on the numbers. He focuses primarily on battery technology, wind power, and electric vehicles. If you can't find him running the numbers, or writing, you might find him lifting weights somewhere!

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