Canada will Remain Below World Growth in Most Renewable Energies

Latest data from the IEA predict that Canada will lag most other nations in its growth of electricity from renewable energy sources.

Canada's growth rate in the generation of electricity from renewable energy technologies will remain well below both the US and the world average to 2018.

The installed capacity of wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams and similar green power facilities across Canada will grow from 86 GW (gigawatt) in 2012 to 108 GW in 2018, representing an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9%, according to the International Energy Agency. By comparison, the US will grow at 5.1% per year, from 184 to 247 GW over the period, while OECD nations grow at 5.3% CAGR (793 to 1,081 GW) and annual global growth will be 6.9% (1,579 to 2,351 GW).

In terms of output of green power, Canada will increase 2.3% per year (403 to 462 TWh) while the US grows 4.4% (537 to 695 TWh) and the world's CAGR will be 5.9% (4,862 to 6,851 TWh) to 2018.

"Recent reports have quantified that Canada's share of renewable energy as a percentage of all energy has been declining for the past 20 years," says Bill Eggertson of the canadian association for renewable energies. "Although Canada is expanding our output from green power, this IEA report shows that we are one of the lowest-growing countries in the world."

The report, ‘Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report', predicts that Canada will expand its production of green fuel from biodiesel by 12.6% CAGR, well ahead of the 4.8% in the US and the 5% global growth. The report does not address the potential for GreenHeat technologies which use renewable energies for space conditioning and water heating.

"A key concern for Canada and for other countries, is that green power and green fuels are growing, but consumption of conventional carbon-based fuels is growing at an even-faster rate," explains Eggertson.

Green power will become increasingly cost-competitive with new fossil-fuel generation, the IEA report predicts, and total global output from wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources will exceed that from gas and will be twice the output from nuclear by 2016. Despite a difficult economic context, green power will increase by 40% over the next five years and will generate one-quarter of global electricity by 2018, up from the estimated 20% in 2011. The share of non-hydro sources (wind, solar, geothermal) of total power output will double, reaching 8% by 2018, up from 4% in 2011 and 2% in 2006.

"Our GreenHeat Partnership has shown repeatedly that more greenhouse gas is emitted from space heating applications in Canada, than from most power generation," adds Eggertson. "It is unfortunate that IEA and national governments are not more supportive of GreenHeat technologies."

"The European Union has attempted to legislate levels for the use of what they call ‘renewable heating' but, earlier this year, the Commission admitted that the heating and cooling sector has experienced slow growth since 2005 and that the share from GreenHeat may actually decline in coming years," says Eggertson. "The world must take action to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity but, without more work on increasing the potential for GreenHeat technologies, we will be hard-pressed to address our energy and climate issues properly."

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