Canada’s Electricity Sector
In Canada electricity is generated using coal, oil, natural gas fired power plants, hydro, nuclear and green power (renewable low-impact electricity). Provinces across Canada determine the particular mix of electricity sources that is appropriate for their region. The regional mix varies widely across the country. Sixty percent of our total electricity generated is from large-scale hydro projects. Recently our position of being the world’s largest hydroelectricity producer of hydro electricity has been taken over by China. Quebec has Canada’s largest hydroelectric facilities with an installed capacity of 15,000 megawatts.
Of the total electricity generated in Canada, approximately 17% (120 million megawatt hours) is from the combustion of coal and oil and 8% is from the combustion of natural gas. Current generating capacity of coal- and oil-fired power plants is about 24,700 megawatts and about 9,500 megawatts of natural gas-fired power plants. Nuclear energy provided about 16% of total Canadian electricity production.
While electricity generation from wind, solar and tidal sources continue to increase, their proportion in the total electricity generation has decreased since 2006. However, wind generation projects continued to grow, with the capacity increasing from 680 megawatts to 1,460 megawatts in 2007.
The electricity networks of Canada and the United States are heavily integrated. In 2006, Canada’s electricity export to US stood at 41.5 Bkwh and imports stood at 23.4 Bkwh. While Canada’s export of electricity to the US has remained stable over the last decade, its import of electricity has increased ten-fold during the same period. The Northeast blackout highlighted the importance of interdependence of networks in both countries.
Electricity production from hydro, nuclear and wind decreased 0.6% in 2006, primarily due to the reduced demand as a result of warmer weather conditions in several parts of Canada. However, nuclear generation increased 6.4% in 2006, reflecting the return of Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering A, Unit 1.