Table of Contents
A Review of Canada’s Renewables Readiness Assessment
- Canada may appear to have a head start on renewable energy due to its geography, which is overflowing with opportunities to implement clean power. However, the reality is similar to that of other nations—Canada is not yet set up for carbon neutrality.
- In Canada, substantial investments are being made to research, develop, and demonstrate new clean energy technologies, which should help accelerate new technologies to commercialization.
- Although Canada has a solid history of supporting clean energy technology and green business growth, more needs to be done for financing the deployment of mature renewable technologies.
- Canada has depended chiefly on huge hydro and nuclear power plants in the past; however, newer sources of renewables like solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal now need to be deployed.
At first glance, it would appear that Canada is a renewables champion. Canada is the 6th largest electricity producer, 3rd largest electricity exporter and now has an 83% emission-free electricity grid. The country also has plenty of sunshine and blustery plains to support solar and wind power, along with plenty of fast-flowing water to support a healthy hydropower industry.
Canada’s geography appears to give it a solid head start on renewable energy. However, the reality is somewhat different, and like most nations, Canada is not fully prepared for carbon neutrality.
Through assessing the necessary conditions for renewable energy technology development and deployment in Canada, it is possible to identify the actions needed to improve these conditions. This article looks into Canada’s preparedness for the surge in renewable energy required to meet the 2035 net-zero target.
Renewable Energy Technology Development in Canada
Apart from the development of renewable power generation technologies (such as solar and wind power), there is a lot of focus on energy storage.
The Government of Canada has identified innovation and clean technologies as critical components to promoting sustainable economic growth and plans to transform Canada into a low-carbon economy. As a result, substantial investments are being made to research, develop, and demonstrate new clean energy technologies to help accelerate these new technologies to commercialization.
Apart from developing renewable power generation technologies (such as solar and wind power), there is a lot of focus on energy storage. Canada now has a total utility-scale energy-storage capacity of more than 130 MW / 250 MWh, 10% of which came online during 2020.
Renewable Energy Deployment in Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic did cause some supply-chain disruptions, which temporarily delayed many renewable energy projects in 2020 from coming online.
Canada has a solid history of supporting clean energy technology and green business growth. This support has enabled many dedicated, purpose-built entities associated with the federal government to offer finance. Although these financially backed schemes have accomplished their specific goals, more needs to be done to finance project-based deployment for mature, clean energy technologies—those ready to be implemented and put to use or already running but need improving.
The COVID-19 pandemic did cause some supply-chain disruptions, which temporarily delayed many renewable energy projects in 2020 from coming online. However, Canada did see some activity in large-scale solar and wind-energy construction in 2020. Around 70 MW of solar PV capacity was installed during 2020 in Canada, along with an additional 166 MW of wind-power generation.
Areas for Renewable Energy Improvement
Disappointedly, Canada added less solar and wind generation in the last five years than almost any other G20 country (apart from Indonesia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia).
Canada has depended chiefly on huge hydro and nuclear power plants in the past. However, newer sources of electricity such as solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal now need to be deployed. In addition, carbon capture and storage for many of these renewables will be superior in the future due to the rapidly declining technology costs and quicker construction times.
Disappointedly, Canada added less solar and wind generation in the last five years than almost any other G20 country (apart from Indonesia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia). This is something which will need to change. In addition, Canada’s Constitution places electricity policy under provincial jurisdiction, resulting in electricity systems across Canada having been independently evolved.
The Canadian power systems all use different energy sources, regulatory models, and varying approaches to trade and collaboration. Although this energy governing model has worked to date, given Canada’s low consumer rates and high power reliability, collaborative action and a cohesive vision will play a large part in achieving the 100% clean grid target by 2035 and enabling a net-zero one by 2050.
The Canadian federal government’s upcoming Clean Electricity Standard policy will involve all electricity in the country to be net-zero by 2035. Though this is an encouraging start, it is not the end of the renewable energy journey. Electrification—connecting vehicles, heating systems, and industry to a clean electricity grid—requires Canada to produce almost twice as much non-emitting electricity as it currently does in under three decades.
Significant investment from governments, utilities, and private green investors will be needed to help ramp up clean energy production. Support and cooperation will need to be shown towards measures and projects such as solar power arrays, wind farms, and interprovincial power lines. In addition, renewable energy projects will require energy storage solutions and smart grids to balance supply and demand. Canada has a long road ahead before having the infrastructure to become truly carbon neutral.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a readiness assessment?
A readiness assessment identifies the potential challenges that may arise when implementing new procedures, structures, and processes within a current organizational context. They are helpful for change management planning which is crucial when managing something like renewable energy implementation.
Is Canada transitioning to renewable energy?
Canada is transitioning to renewable energy, but due to its substantial oil, gas, and coal resources, the country has been slower to transition than other developed nations. All the same, Canada is committed to achieving 90% of its electricity from zero-emission sources by 2030, likely resulting in a renewable energy market growth in the coming years.
Why should Canada switch to renewable energy?
Apart from being much better for the environment than fossil fuels, the cost of solar energy is dropping, and products such as electric vehicles are becoming more popular and widely used. Additionally, renewable energy creates more employment opportunities than fossil fuels, with an estimated three times more jobs per dollar invested than nuclear or fossil fuels.
Is renewable energy economically sustainable?
Accelerating the use of renewable energy will drive economic growth, create new employment opportunities, improve human welfare, and provide a climate-safe future. By doubling the portion of renewables in the global energy mix, it will increase global GDP in 2030 by up to 1.1%, the equivalent of USD 1.3 trillion.
What are Canada’s carbon-neutral targets?
Canada has recently adopted a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and increase its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030. The nation is now committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.