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Science & Tech

Charting the future of renewable electricity in Canada

Charts from Canadian emission-cutting strategies developed by The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.
  • Nov 30, 2015
  • 418 words
  • 2 minutes
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“The world stands on the brink of a Golden Age of renewable electricity,” reads the latest report released by the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The report, “Powering Climate Prosperity: Canada’s Renewable Electricity Advantage,” summarizes Canadian emission-cutting strategies developed by The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, a global partnership of energy research teams from various countries tasked with developing scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stay below the two degree celsius threshold.

The founding members of the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity are the Canadian Hydropower Association, Canadian Solar Industries Association, Canadian Wind Energy Association, and Marine Renewables Canada.

Here are six thought-provoking charts and graphs from their report.

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The decarbonization project’s Canadian research team found that if our country were follow three strategies (boosting energy efficiency, switching from non-renewable to renewable electricity generation and using electricity over fossil fuels for transportation, heating, etc.), by 2050 our emissions would be 80 per cent lower than they were in 2010.

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By boosting energy efficiency, Canada could experience the same GDP growth in 2050 as it does today with half the energy, according to the decarbonization scenario.

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Canada has already begun cleaning up its electricity generation systems. In 2014, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to stop using coal to produce electricity and other provinces have recently pledged to reduce their coal-powered generation. According to the research team’s scenario, if this momentum continues, most of Canada’s electricity will come from renewable resources (figure 5) by 2050.

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The third strategy recommended by the Canadian research team is to use renewable electricity over fossil fuels in buildings, transportation and industry. In this scenario, electricity would grow from generating 36 per cent of the energy used in buildings to almost 100 per cent by 2050 (figure 6). Transportation would use virtually no fossil fuels and instead adopt a mix of biofuels, hydrogen and electricity by 2050 (figure 7). Light-duty passenger vehicles in particular, could go almost entirely electric by 2050. Unfortunately, electrifying Canada’s industrial energy use requires further innovation. However by using technologies available today, such as switching to electric boilers and heat pumps, the research team suggests that Canada can more than double its industrial electricity use and cut the sector’s emissions by 85 percent between 2010 and 2050 (figure 9).

Read the whole report here.

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