Canada's Growth in Renewables to be Slower than U.S. or World

Consumption of renewable energies in Canada will grow at a slower rate than the rest of the world over three decades, and will grow much slower than most other energy sources in the country.

Canada's consumption of renewable energies will increase 1% per year until 2030, slower than the 1.7% expected in the U.S. and the 2.4% annual growth in renewables around the world.


Canada consumed 3.5 quadrillion Btu of hydroelectricity and other renewables in 2003, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy. Under the reference case for economic growth, consumption in this country will be 4.6 quads in 2030, 7% of the world's consumption of 62.4 quad.

Under low economic growth, Canada would increase consumption of renewables by 0.6% per year, reaching 4.1 quad by 2030 while, under high economic growth, consumption would rise 1.4% per year to 5.1 quad.

By comparison, annual U.S. growth would be 1.4% under the low-growth scenario and 2.0% under the high, while world consumption would increase 1.9% in a poor economy and 3.0% in a good economy. The highest increases for renewables are expected in developing countries, but Canada lags behind the average for all OECD nations.

The forecasts are contained in the International Energy Outlook 2006 released today by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Canadian government does not produce data or forecasts on renewables in Canada.

"Every year, the data show Canada lagging behind our maligned neighbour to the south, our industrialized counterparts and virtually every other nation in the world," says Bill Eggertson, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Renewable Energies. "If you disaggregate large hydro and biomass from the figures, Canada barely shows on the chart."

The data reflect only the consumption of marketable energy and do not include green heat sources such as geothermal heat pumps and solar thermal, nor many green power sources such as off-grid solar panels and wind turbines. C.A.R.E. has previously estimated that non-valorized renewables are at least 50% of the level of marketed renewables.

End-users in Canada will actually decrease consumption of renewables, due to the expected 3.1% annual decline in the industrial sector until 2030. While renewables grow by 1.0% per year under the reference case, consumption of nuclear grows by 1.6%, natural gas by 1.9% and coal by 2.1%, with only growth in oil consumption lower than renewables.

"We have been warning for years that the market share for renewables in Canada is declining," explains Eggertson. "We may be installing more wind turbines, but that smart growth is over-shadowed by the increased consumption from fossil fuels and ignores a number of policy issues such as Ontario's re-commitment to nuclear and the federal decimation of a number of policies."

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